When our lives are different from what we want, it can be counter intuitive to give thanks, and yet it might just be what we need most. I was thinking about gratitude (again!) as this is Thanksgiving weekend in the US. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks for the harvest.
What if we included more gratitude into our everyday lives instead of just one or two holidays a year? Research shows by incorporating gratitude into your everyday, you are more likely to notice the things you have to be grateful for and by focusing on them, you are happier. When you are happier, you are more successful, more tolerant of others and more fun to be around. I found it fascinating to learn about the science - that gratitude actually engages a different area of the brain - allowing for us to better problem solve and find creative solutions to problems. It counteracts our negativity bias - that is our innate default of looking for the negative. It provides a protective feature against anxiety and depression. Gratitude helps us literally rewire our brain.
If you and I go back a while, (or even if you read last weeks blog!) you will know that this is the not the first time I have written about gratitude. I keep coming back to it because it can make a big impact - especially during the times when we find it the hardest - times when we are distressed, hurt or uncertain about the future.
Could you use more positive things to focus on? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Start a gratitude journal and write out three things you are grateful for each evening before bed. Think about how you contributed to these things and truly feel the gratitude (rather than just thinking about it).
2. Write a letter to someone you are grateful for - perhaps a mentor or family member or friend. It could be a teacher or former boss or coach. Thank them for what they did for you. Go visit (if possible) or read the letter aloud to them over the phone.
3. Every morning write a quick text or email to a coworker or friend telling them that you are grateful for them and why.
4. Every evening at the dinner table share with your partner or family what it is about them specifically you appreciate them for. Perhaps it is their determination or willingness to step up and fix anything or perhaps it is the way they consistently show up every day.
If you are interested in the research, you can read more on the 14 benefits of gratitude here.
Let me conclude by saying thank you. Thank you for reading this, thank you for your encouragement and support. Thank you for sharing your heart-felt stories, and your hopes and dreams with me. I feel so honoured to be on this journey with you.