Updated: Apr 1, 2021
As today is the US holiday of Thanksgiving, let us take a minute to talk about gratitude. What is gratitude? According to positive psychology literature, it is recognizing, acknowledging, and being grateful for the good things in life.
The most important thing is that it should be a daily practice, not saved for that one special day of the year. Each moment of every day, for the rest of your life, you have the opportunity to mindfully express your gratitude for a person, a daily ritual, a beloved comfort item, or a situation. It can be as simple as expressing thanks for that very first cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Or perhaps that moment you drop your kids off at school :-) In these days of COVID-19, our gratitude may take the shape of just seeing another person in real life!
Two additional practices which help with building our gratitude skills are:
(1) Doing a gratitude meditation
(2) Keeping a gratitude journal
a) Each night before you go to sleep, think of three good things that happened that day and write them down. They can be minor (e.g. cozy socks, good book, etc.,.) or major (e.g. promotion at work, project completed, etc.,.).
Expressing gratitude has been shown to rewire your brain and scientifically increase your feelings of gratitude. What this means is that the more you consciously express gratitude, the more sensitive you will become to the experience of gratitude. And gratitude practices have been shown to decrease stress and depression, as well as increase levels of optimism, improved immune function, and lowered blood pressure!
From that place of of appreciation, we move into the world with an open heart, which allows us to be more compassionate, empathic, and openminded.
As Rumi says,
Gratitude is the wine for the soul.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone—may you have a day full of family, fun, and feast, and above all, gratitude.
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