Thanksgiving is a time for taking stock of how much we have to be grateful for, yet the practice of gratitude is something we can do each and every day.
Practicing gratitude has been shown to improve physical and psychological health, strengthen relationships and self-esteem, enhance empathy, reduce aggression, and even improve sleep. With all of these benefits we can be thankful for gratitude itself!
There are many ways to practice gratitude and I have listed some of my favorites here:
Gratitude Journal: choose a time each day (when you first wake up or before you go to bed) to list three things you are grateful for. The more specific the better!
Gratitude Jar: every time you think of something you are thankful for, write it down and put it in a jar (you can also get your loved ones involved in this one). Then choose a special time (like Thanksgiving or New Years) to read through everything you were grateful for throughout the year.
Gratitude Meditation: there are many guided meditations that focus on gratitude or you can create one yourself. Find a quiet place to sit still and close your eyes. Bring to mind something you are grateful for and notice how it makes you feel. If you are having trouble thinking of something, try focusing on your appreciation for each part of your body and what it does for you.
Gratitude Letter: like many other things, gratitude can be even better when it’s shared. Write a letter to someone telling them why and how you appreciate them. Not much of a writer? No problem. I phone call or simple “I appreciate you” will also do the trick.
Gratitude Conversation: many people have a tradition of going around the Thanksgiving table and sharing about something they are grateful for. This is a wonderful practice and can be adapted for any conversation (i.e. with friends, your significant other, even your coworkers).
Gratitude Meal: have you ever really thought about how much goes into the meals you eat? Next time you sit down for a meal, take a few moments to consider all of the natural miracles and human efforts that had to take place in order for this meal to come together (i.e. the sunshine and rain to help crops grow, the farmers who harvest them, the drivers who bring them from the farms to the grocery store etc.). Of course you can also be grateful for having food when others go hungry and for how this food nourishes you.
Gratitude Walk: these days, it is not uncommon to walk around with our ear buds in, talking on the phone, listening to music and checking our latest messages – but with a gratitude walk the key is to put the technology away and to notice the beauty around you. Try to tap in to all of your senses to really be in the moment.
Personal Gratitude List: when practicing gratitude, don’t forget to include the most important person- YOU. We are typically very good at focusing on our flaws but it is even more important to acknowledge the things we love about ourselves. This can be a tough activity for some of us, and that’s okay. If you are having a hard time with this, try focusing on something small (i.e. I am good at keeping my plants alive) or ask a friend what they appreciate about you and see if it resonates.
Happy Thanksgiving and THANK YOU for taking the time to read my blog!