Updated: Apr 9, 2020
It's that time of year again, where we reflect on all the happenings of this past year. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and for many, its the only time of year we take a moment to acknowledge what we are grateful for. In my family, that was always part of the festivities- sitting around the table and each of us taking a turn to say what we are grateful for, before digging into the turkey! I think it's a wonderful tradition.
But here's the thing: practicing the 'attitude of gratitude' should not be a one time of year practice.
That is because more and more evidence is coming forward that "gratitude leads to benefits for both mental health and interpersonal relationships" (Fox, Glenn R et al, 2015). There was actually a study done where people experiencing gratitude were placed under an MRI machine and their hypothalamus lit up! The hypothalamus is the part of your brain that influences sleep, eating and stress. This impacts daily behaviors that can contribute to your health and wellness. Practicing gratitude can be the simplest, most effective thing you can do to shift your focus on the positive, instead of the negative, and your body will actually follow suit!
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” —Charles Dickens
Practicing gratitude has a place in your daily routine.
It is an important component in the Holistic Health and wellness model as it impacts your emotional well being, your relationships and social circle, and your sense of security.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein
A while back I discovered gratitude journals and my goal is to *try* and make a point to write in it every day. But you don't even need some fancy journal- all it takes is five quiet minutes and a pen and paper.
Here's how you can get started:
Find a quiet place to sit and reflect. I like to take this time first thing in the morning to set the tone for the day.
Meditate, do some deep breathing or listen to your favorite song. This will help clear your mind, and help you focus.
Next, list three things you are grateful for. It can be the same thing everyday or you can change it up. Don't make this a source of stress! It can simply be having an amazing cup of coffee or sleeping in a comfy bed (both of which are never guaranteed daily in my life since I travel for a living).
Write out three things that would make today great. Getting a workout in, spending quality time with the spouse, or your favorite sports team scoring a win, anything that could happen that would make the day great.
Finally, write out an affirmation for the day. When I first started doing this, I couldn't think of any! Pinterest was a great way to snag some inspirational affirmations. There are also some amazing affirmation cards you can snag on Amazon, and pull a new card every day. These are the ones I use!
Practicing daily gratitude, can lead to better sleep, reduce physical pain, and contribute to a sense of well being.
So what are you waiting for!? Grab a pen and stop making practicing gratitude a once a year thing :)
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Fox, Glenn R et al. “Neural correlates of gratitude” Frontiers in psychology vol. 6 1491. 30 Sep. 2015, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01491
Zahn, Roland et al. “The neural basis of human social values: evidence from functional MRI” Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991) vol. 19,2 (2008): 276-83.
Sweatt, L. (2016, November 24). 15 Thoughtful Quotes About Gratitude.https://www.success.com/15-thoughtful-quotes-about-gratitude/