If you woke up tomorrow, with only what you were thankful for today, what would you have left?
Every November, we kick-off the holiday season with the theme of gratitude. But why wait until November? Common sense tells us that expressions of gratitude can lift the spirit. Research shows that the benefits of gratitude don’t stop there. Here are some of the scientifically proven benefits.
- Better relationships: More than good manners, it helps to build connections which lead to friendships and other relationships. People who are often thanked by their partners feel more appreciated and thus more positive toward each other.
- Improved physical health: Experience fewer aches and pains. People who are gracious typically display more willingness/ability to exercise, eat healthfully, and take care of their health.
- Enhanced mental strength: It can reduce stress; help overcome trauma; reduce aggression; and increase empathy and other prosocial behaviors. A healthy dose of gratitude can overcome toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, guilt, or stress.
- Elevate one’s self-esteem: A strong sense of self-esteem is essential to optimum performance. When feeling thankful, the amount of effort comparing oneself to others is reduced and leaves greater appreciation for what one has or does.
Students from Harvard Medical School conducted a study with 3 groups. One group wrote about things they were grateful for, a second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected without emphasis on them being positive or negative. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.
Gratitude is not only a feeling but to many it is an action. For some, the source of that goodness lies within something outside and larger than themselves— whether it is other people, nature, or a higher power. It is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new or thinking they “will be happy when……. (something happens) “When you focus on and appreciate what you have instead of what you lack, your mental and emotional states grow stronger.
There are so many ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, but below are my top 10 favorites:
- Make a list of 50 things that you’d like to have BUT at least 25 of them must be things you WANT and ALREADY HAVE.
- Do something nice for someone without out telling anyone.
- Abe Lincoln says, “you’re as happy as you make your mind up to be”. I agree. Make a conscious decision to find things you are grateful for throughout the day.
- Smile randomly at strangers. You’ll be surprised at how nice it makes you feel, and it will likely make them feel just as good.
- Make a deliberate and sincere effort to tell others what they are doing right, and double down if they do something above and beyond what is expected.
- Practice forgiveness. Everyone makes mistakes and holding on to resentment is “like drinking poison and expecting them to die from it”. By forgiving, we free ourselves of negative feelings and make room for appreciation and delight.
- Thank someone mentally (if you cannot in person). This act creates positive feelings and expands our emotional state.
- Appreciate nature and the divinity of life. Stop and wonder how a sunset or a rainbow is so perfectly colorful and beautiful. Hold a baby and embrace its innocence and perfection.
- Meditate. There are countless proven benefits of meditation. Setting the intention of feeling grateful will open your consciousness to see the many blessings in your life.
- Give thanks in prayer. This does not have to be a religious practice. You can give thanks to any source you are comfortable with, nature, light, or a religious deity.
Recovery and Personal-Growth Coach
Articles referenced: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7- scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude