Shortly many in the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Having a day set aside to consciously be grateful isn’t a bad thing but the benefits of being grateful are so compelling, it is worth thinking about bringing more of it into your life, year round. Research demonstrates that people that are grateful are happier, sleep better, have better vitality and are more likely to look after themselves. Gratitude decreases stress, counters materialism and just feels good!
Why does gratitude have all these benefits?
For one, it helps get us out the negativity bias that we have. Human brains have evolved to focus on the negative as a way of keeping us out of harms way. It was the people that noticed the rustling in the trees that were able to escape from predators or those that noticed the blight on the crops sooner that were able to survive. Shifting that negativity bias encourages to notice that which is good in our lives shifting us to a more positive emotional state.
Secondly, gratitude feels good and when we express it or share it with others we deepen our bond and pass on this positive feeling, which encourages us to do it again.
Third, gratitude helps us counter the myth that “we will be happy when…..”. Often when we get “it” we adapt to it and get used to the positive changes. For example sometimes we think we will be happy when we win the lottery or when the kids behave better or when we retire, and yet when those things happen we get used to it and no longer feel that same degree of happiness. Gratitude helps us to notice the positive things in our life right now and to savour them.
There are lots of ways you can bring more gratitude into your life. Here are a few of my favourites:
Three things –before bed I often say “3 things” and that is Philip’s cue to share 3 things he is grateful for that day. Then I share my 3.
Gratitude journal – writing out things you are grateful for that day.
Blessing before a meal – a few words of thanks shared
Gratitude primers – placing reminders of things you are grateful for to act as cues (a computer password, a post it note, an alarm, wristband etc).
Writing a letter of gratitude to someone and reading it aloud – by writing a letter to someone who you are grateful for and reading aloud to them, it reminds the writer that they are cared for and that someone had taken the time to do something for them. In addition, it this powerful exercise can strengthen the relationship with the person you are grateful for.
Gratitude is a very powerful feeling that increases our well-being and one that we can all cultivate with a bit of practice.
I would like to try the gratitude letter. I will let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, I want to thank each of you for being part of my community. I appreciate you reading my notes and sharing your thoughts on them. It reminds me the work that I am doing is making a difference and it encourages me to keep going. I appreciate how you show up at my workshops and classes and share your stories reminding us we are all in this together. Thank you for recommending me to your friends, family members and coworkers who are looking for a speaker or workshop leader or coach. Thank you trusting me with your desires for a bigger, more authentic life and for sharing what gets in the way. I am so thankful to be on this journey with you.