I hope that you feel like you have lots to be grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday. For many of you, I know that might include enjoying a delicious (and hopefully nutritious) meal with people you love…something to be grateful for indeed.
I love Thanksgiving for many reasons…especially the “no gifts” part. And the food.
And the fact that it’s a holiday that provides us the opportunity to reflect on the things that we are thankful for because gratitude is good medicine.
As millions of Americans gather round tables with family and friends to give thanks, it is a special reminder of just how good it is to be grateful…not just one day, but every day. How good for our emotional health, our relational health, our spiritual health, and our physical health. Being grateful is so good.
Here are just a few scientifically proven reasons why we all need to be more grateful.
Gratitude improves physical health: According to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences, people who are grateful have fewer aches and pains and report feeling generally better than other people. Grateful people are more likely to care about their health and look after themselves.
People who are grateful sleep better: According to researchers, those who write down just a few things that they are grateful for each night before going to bed sleep better and longer than those who don’t.
Being grateful helps you overcome trauma: A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans that had high levels of gratitude had lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. Similarly, another study found that gratitude helped people cope after the terrorist attacks on September 11.
Gratitude reduces aggressive behavior and increases empathy: People who are grateful are less likely to treat other people with aggression, even when they are mistreated themselves. They are more sensitive, have increased empathy, and have less desire to seek revenge than less grateful people.
Here are some ways that you can capture the joy and warmth of thanksgiving all year round.
Start Each Day With an Attitude of Gratitude
How do you wake up? Do you wake up with a grumbling attitude or a grateful attitude? Believe it or not, how you wake up sets the tone for the rest of your day. It impacts how you feel and how those around you feel. Try giving yourself an extra few minutes each day before your feet hit the floor to list off a few things you are grateful for. After a few weeks of doing this, you will be amazed at just how refreshing it is to think of all the beautiful things in your life you have to be thankful for. Compare this to waking up to an angry alarm in your head of all the things you have to get done or ways that people or circumstances have let you down. Starting each day with a thankful spirit reduces stress and sends love to all those around you.
Don’t Just Think It, Write It
Journaling is thought to be one of the best ways to cultivate gratefulness. There is increasing evidence to support the fact that journaling is healthy. Each night, write down several things that you are grateful for. This could be people, things or circumstances. Keep it short and simple.
Don’t Just Think it and Write It, But Say It
Once you get the hang of journaling your gratitude, try speaking it to those whom you are grateful for. Speak kind words of thankfulness to those who matter in your life. Let them know how you feel as often as you can.
Carry small stone or marble in your pocket and when things get tough rub the stone and think of all the things you are thankful for. This will help shift your focus off of the difficult and onto the beautiful things in your life.
Before you know it, gratitude will drip from your pores and positively influence not only yourself but others around you.
-The Upwellness Team