Gratitude is good for the soul and research would suggest much more. So, this word gratitude… it is a powerful word and it seems to surface like a submarine on Thanksgiving. How can we miss it, the holiday punctuates what gratitude is in its name… giving thanks. You may not ask yourself or others this question often, but it is asked a bit more around Thanksgiving… what are you grateful for in your life? Everyone has a personal response to this question but there are some inherent themes that always emerge, and after years of research and data collection in and around subjects like happiness, gratitude, and empowerment these are some common answers I found when it comes to gratitude. How do they resonate with you?
I am grateful for….
My husband/wife/partner/significant other
Wonders of travel
Challenges I have overcome
Faith, hope, and love
Capacity to learn and grow
Mysteries of life
Notice what is not represented in the above list. Not one answer is about materialistic things. An article for another day but worth pondering in the meantime.
Back on topic… as much as we are unique and different, we have a lot in common when it comes to gratitude. However, our challenge as a society is, we don’t give ourselves permission to pause and take inventory of what we are grateful for daily. Just like any muscle you have to exercise it to keep it flexible, strong, and healthy. What if, you gave yourself permission to carve a small slice of time out each day to be grateful. How could an intentional exercise of gratitude impact your life? Research shows that people that are consciously grateful every day are physically and emotionally healthier and have:
Enhanced empathy and reduced aggression
Better sleep habits and self-esteem
Increased mental strength and resiliency
Here’s the kicker, the above benefits are supersized, NOT when life is smooth sailing but when you remain grateful in and through times of struggle. We all get tossed around and thrown off course by change and circumstances but your ability to weather the storms is a great reminder that no matter how dark things get there is always light on the other side. So next time life gets rough, let hope be your compass and gratitude your anchor.
What are you grateful for in your life? What a powerful question. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to answer it. Consider taking the 365-day gratitude challenge and carve out 2 to 3 minutes every day to pause and count your blessings.
“Be present in all things and grateful for all things.” - Maya Angelou
Consider cultivating more gratitude by taking intentional action:
Start a gratitude journal
Read a book on the benefits of being grateful
Send 3 people an email and let them know how much you appreciate them
Better yet, write an old fashion letter and mail
Look someone in the eyes and tell them how much you appreciate them
Take a few minutes next time you are at dinner with friends and/or family and go around the table and share a gratitude story
Start a gratitude jar and don’t just look at it, fill it up throughout the year
Take a few minutes every day to pause and be grateful
If you are in the middle of a storm seek gratitude
Draw a picture with your kids that represents gratitude
Pause to process what gratitude feels like in your body
Leave an anonymous note for someone letting them know how great they are
Take gratitude out to your community, work, school etc. by doing a gratitude check-in. Start your next meeting by encouraging everyone to share one thing in which they are grateful.
Consider some additional ways that you can ground your life in gratitude and put them into action
Share this “article short” with someone that could use a little more gratitude in their life.
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