I am still enjoying the fond memories of a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. We are so very fortunate – food on the table, a warm place to sleep, close friends – it’s really an endless list. Thanksgiving is a great time to focus on our blessings, but how can we maintain that feeling of gratitude throughout the year?
Robert Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude says that gratitude has 2 key components:
- It is an affirmation that there are good things in the world – gifts and benefits we have received.
- We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside ourselves – from other people, the universe, or a higher power.
The benefits being grateful are endless. Studies show that grateful people are more hopeful and physically healthier. Those who are appreciative sleep better and longer than those who aren’t grateful. Athletes who express more thankfulness toward their coaches and toward life have higher self-esteem compared to those who aren’t openly thankful. Higher levels of gratitude are linked to greater empathy and lower levels of aggression. The best part is that gratitude turns whatever we have into enough.
Most of us practice some level of gratitude, but can we do more? Sure, we are grateful when momentous events occur, but how can we improve out daily thankfulness practice? Here are some ideas:
- Freshen up your thanks. Think of 5 new things to be grateful for each day. Documenting grateful moments in a journal is a great way to help you focus on your blessings rather than on your problems. Gratitude journaling works because it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on.
- Make thankfulness fun by mixing it up. If journaling gets monotonous or stale, think of new ways to acknowledge your appreciation. Why not create a blessings jar and capture grateful moments in the jar. At the end of the year, empty the jar and read back through your blessings.
- Be Social About your Gratitude. Include people in your appreciation. Write an appreciation letter to someone who has had a positive impact in your life or discuss the day’s grateful moments at the dinner table.
Thanksgiving has just past, but don’t let that be the end to your gratitude practice. Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot. Start and end our day by being thankful, appreciate the small things, and improve your attitude with gratitude.
© Passion for Order 2016