Today is Thankful Thursday, which got me thinking about gratitude and how good it feels to be thankful and appreciative for even the smallest of things in life.
And it turns out that there’s a growing amount of evidence that being grateful has a variety of psychological benefits, including making you happy and reducing stress, despair, and anxiety.
And, of course, feeling good about making people happy!
Furthermore, research data suggests that expressing genuine thankfulness on a daily basis might improve physical health by enhancing sleep quality, cardiovascular (heart) health, and immune function.
Visualizing how we think about our lives and the people in them has a significant impact on our health!
Clearly, cultivating and developing an attitude of gratefulness and appreciation is a principle ability for everyone – young and old!
Gratitude fosters optimism and aids in the development of a more optimistic mindset. It allows us to take a breather and appreciate what we have right now rather than continually pushing for more; the next goal, the new dress, the new toy, the new automobile, or the home remodel.
Gratitude is nothing more than cultivating genuine gratitude for what we already have.
And we have a lot of them! I’m sure you’ll agree that the majority of us have considerably more material “things” than we require.
Let’s face it: smiling is such an easy way to show someone on the street that you appreciate and recognize their presence as a fellow traveller.
It’s worth noting that all old religions and traditions contain some form of thankfulness, appreciation, or respect for others. In yoga, for example, the Hindu gesture and expression “Namaste” acknowledges and expresses gratitude for the divine spark of greatness within each of us and expresses gratitude for its presence in both persons.
Dr. John Demartini discussed the importance of thankfulness in everyday life and how it may improve any personal or professional relationship. He has some interesting thoughts on how we might be grateful in our daily lives, and one of my favorite statements from him is:
Wisdom is the immediate awareness that adversity is a gift.
There are lessons to be learned and things to be grateful for even in the middle of crises and change!
So what am I grateful for right now in my own life?
- Having a positive work environment with clients I value and feel empowered to help
- Being able to sit here and write this blog while I look out to my office!
- Positive interpersonal relationships with friends and family
- Having the freedom to choose my direction in life
- The sunset each night
- The beauty of a rose
- but largely for mon gâteau au sucre – he is such a wonderful blessing!
Take the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge!
I recommend that you attempt the following exercises for 30 days and see how they affect your life:
- Every day, write down three things for which you are grateful. These should be specific rather than broad. “I am grateful for the way my child likes to hug me,” for example. (Rather than “I am grateful for my children,” “I am grateful for my career,” “I am grateful for my home,” and so on.)
- Make a list of one thing you could do each day to better your life. It’s fine if it’s small. “I’m going to clean the windows so they’re sparkling clear and I can enjoy the view more,” for example. (You are not obligated to carry out the plans you make.)
- Write about your perfect life in detail once a week for 10 minutes. Write as if it’s actually occurring and real, not as if it’s only a want or a hope. “I am enjoying a walk along a gorgeous tropical beach with clear white sand on a warm evening with palm trees softly swaying in the light wind,” for example, rather than “I wish I could…” Stop after 10 minutes, even if you haven’t completed it, and come back to it next week or write about another part of your perfect existence.
The key to the first exercise is to express genuine thankfulness and appreciation for specific items you already have in your life, rather than thinking like a victim who “deserves” or “wishes” for more.
And when you share your gratitude with others — mainly family, but also friends, coworkers, clients, and others – the beneficial effect is amplified.
You can use this gratitude quiz to see how far you’ve progressed before and after the 30 day challenge.
Why not attempt the 30-day gratitude challenge and see how it goes?