With Thanksgiving upon us, there's all kinds of talk about gratitude. But beyond the holiday cliché, gratitude is a really good thing. A gratitude practice is an even better thing.
The act of recognizing the goodness in our lives helps us become less self-centered and feel more connected to something bigger than ourselves. Whether to other people, nature, or a higher power. Numerous studies have linked gratitude with greater happiness. In one recent study, participants who kept a gratitude journal experienced lower levels of depression and stress and increased happiness within just three weeks (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine).
The key is to make gratitude a regular practice, as instinctive as brushing your teeth. Like many aspects of healthy living, like eating well and working out, gratitude requires commitment. It’s often far easier to come up with a list of what’s missing or wrong rather than focusing on all that we have right now. Neuropsychologists call this the negativity bias. It’s certainly made worse by the constant messages in media and advertising that we don’t have enough, don’t do enough, aren’t enough. To overcome that, we have to train our brains to focus on the positive. Fortunately, a gratitude practice doesn’t have to be time consuming. Plus, it’s easy to make it a daily ritual.
Pick a consistent time of day, maybe when you first wake up or as you’re drifting to sleep and think of 3 things you’re grateful for. Let yourself include the big and small. There’s no right or wrong, it’s just about what you’re moved to appreciate. Spend a few moments genuinely appreciating what’s on your list! Or dedicate a little more time to keeping a gratitude journal, by writing your daily lists down. There’s also a great app called “Gratitude Journal” that lets you set up a daily reminder to record your list on your device. You can even attach pictures to each list, so that it becomes a fun record to look back through.
Be inspired this Thanksgiving to make a gratitude a daily practice. Share your attitude of gratitude with family and friends and inspire others to take part. We’ll kick it off here: we’re grateful for YOU!
by Victoria Williams
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