This week is American Thanksgiving and it is undoubtedly my favorite food-related holiday. I mean, who could resist all of the amazing entrees, side dishes, and desserts?! I, like many other Americans, plan on eating my weight in food on Thursday. And I could not be more excited about it!
Since it is Thanksgiving week, I thought I'd spend some time talking about gratitude and why we should all practice it.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is simply the act of noticing and appreciating something or someone.
We all probably practice gratitude more than we think. For example, many families have a tradition at Thanksgiving of going around the table to say something you are thankful for. Many people meditate and pray about the blessings they have in their lives. Many people send flowers on birthdays or anniversaries and thank you cards after receiving gifts. But did you know that the act of being grateful can have a profound impact on you - your day, your attitude, even your body chemistry?
How Does Gratitude Change Us?
More and more research is being conducted every day into the power of positive thinking. Scientists have shown a correlation between positive thoughts and such things as brain growth, higher immune responses, and increased happiness.
In fact, research indicates that expressing gratitude stimulates the areas of our brains that are responsible for the regulation of stress and pleasure in such a way as to decrease stress and increase pleasure. In other words, focusing on the positives makes you a happier, more positive person. How cool is that?! You literally can change your attitude by thinking happy thoughts. (If only that could also help us fly, Peter Pan.) You can read more about recent studies in this NY Times op-ed article - or do a quick google search.
Think about it for a moment. Who is the happiest person you know? The most content? Do they express gratitude often? Do they take time to say genuine thank yous? My guess is that yes, they express gratitude often with those around them. The good news is, you too can be like them.
How Do I Become Grateful?
Well, like any other habit, you need to practice. Start small. Try writing down one thing you are thankful for each day. It could be anything - you found the exact paper you needed when you needed it, your coffee was perfect this morning, you had gas in the car, the sun was shining. Whatever it is, write it down. Every day, write it down.
As you get the hang of it, start expanding your thoughts of gratitude to 2+ things per day and begin to include gratitude for the people around you. It might be your co-worker that is always smiling. It might be your significant other that did the dishes or made the bed. It might be the complete stranger that held the door for you in the pouring rain. It might be the friend that answered the phone at 3am when you were bawling because you and your fiance had a fight. The people around us are amazing and do some pretty awesome things for us - we just have to notice.
When you feel ready, start sharing your gratitude with the people close to you. I love sending short text messages or mailing hand-written notes or picking up something at the store. Anything to let them know I was thinking about them and am grateful they are in my life. Sometimes the gratitude has a specific point - like when I'm thankful for my friend who watched by furbaby while I was out of town - and sometimes the gratitude is vague - like when I'm just feeling happy and content.
Go on, give it a try! I promise, you won't regret it.
Now, it's time for me to share a little gratitude with you. Thank you so much for reading this, my inaugural blog post. I can't express how thankful I am for cheerleaders like you. You make my life brighter and more complete just by being here and being you. No matter where you are in the world, I want to take a moment to say...
THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU!
Have a wonderful week! If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, I wish you a stress-free holiday full of the best food ever and the best people ever.
Psst - Want this banner to hang up at your Thanksgiving feast? I'm giving it away as a FREE download to anyone that becomes a VIP this week. You'll need a PDF reader, some scissors, and ribbon or string to hang it. I used twine, gold glitter clothespins (tutorial coming in December), and some gold foil leaves from the Target Dollar Spot to decorate mine.