Gratitude

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving I have been sharing this quote in my yoga classes this week as I find it quite poignant. We live in such a materialistic world where everywhere we turn, there is always something to want. Something we do not already have that we “need” to make our lives better. Easier. Prettier. Especially during this time of the year it is easy to get caught up in this and forget about all the things we already have that make our lives beautiful. Wonderful. Fill them with happiness.

What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you gave thanks for today?

While gratitude certainly fills the holiday season, it is something to be expressed daily, mutually, received humbly, and fully. Studies have shown that gratitude benefits us psychologically, emotionally, and physically. According to the Huffington Post:

  • A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison …
  • In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons and McCullough, 2003) …
  • Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions …
  • Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. The disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions. Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.

Studies have further illustrated the following benefits of gratitude (note better sleep and health). A five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent (that’s the same impact as doubling your income) as well as lower hypertension, systemic inflammation, and risk of heart disease.

gratitude

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What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you gave thanks for today?

Here are some simple  ways to practice gratitude each day:

  • Say thanks. Send a thank-you text message or email to someone who did something nice for you recently. Or write a longer letter, detailing how their act of generosity benefited you. Better yet, tell them in person.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Every morning (or evening), write down three to five things you’re grateful for. They can be simple things, or big things — the key is that they’re different every day. Think: What was surprisingly fun, exciting, or laugh-out-loud funny? What made you feel good or proud or connected to someone else?
  • Use visual cues. Put notes or objects that elicit feelings or reminders of gratitude and put them in different places so you see them throughout the day to help set your gratitude habit.
  • Remember the good times. Do a deep dive into some personal archives and reconnect with where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, and whom you’ve loved along the way. (Read more about how to make good feelings last.)

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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