Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. We tend to spend it with the people we love; we eat amazingly delicious food; and, we get some downtime to start preparations for the holiday season in December. One of my favorite aspects of the holiday, however, is that it reminds us to practice gratitude.
When we practice gratitude, we appreciate our lives, our relationships, and the good fortune we have. It allows us to take a step back and look at the positive, and not dwell on the negative. It reminds us that although things may go wrong at times, we still have a lot for which to be thankful. It also takes focus off of materialistic things, and places importance on the intangible things in our life, such as family, friends, relationships, and our health. And speaking of health, those who practice gratitude see many health benefits as well. They tend to have a more positive, optimistic attitude and are happier, are more energetic and productive, and are more giving in nature. Not to mention, they tend to exercise more regularly, feel less stress and sleep better. Talk about incentive!
Given the time of year, I really wanted to share the three things for which I’m most appreciative:
- YOU! I’m so thankful for each and every one of my readers. Without you, what I do couldn’t be possible. Any time I receive a comment or an email from you (keep them coming!), expressing YOUR thanks for what I share, it warms my heart and makes me feel so grateful. So, a big THANK YOU for being part of this community and for sharing in the belief and mission to be healthy and happy, and to live at your best every day.
- My Family: With each passing day, I am more and more grateful for the love and support of my husband, and my parents. Without them, I would never have dreamed to be part of your life!
- My Health: When I see how much sickness and depression exists in the world, it makes me feel so appreciative for my healthy body and healthy mind. I really do believe that without our health, we have nothing. Our health is what gives us the ability to be at our best and at our happiest. Taking care of our bodies and minds is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves!
And if you’re anxious to boost your practice, here are a few ways to give thanks on a more regular basis:
- Start a Gratitude Journal: Every day, write what you are thankful for in a special journal dedicated to “Thanks.” Over time, you’ll have a good list of those things for which you are thankful. When you have bad days, refer to your journal to lift your spirits and remind yourself of all of the good you have in your life. To ensure you stick with your practice, set a daily calendar reminder to make an entry. Or, make it part of your bedtime ritual.
- Vary Your Focus: Although it is easy to acknowledge the same blessings over and over, such as our health, a repetitive practice can undermine our ability to find new things for which we are grateful. To keep your gratitude diversified: 1) each day, find a new area of your life in which you express thanks (E.g., home, family, friends, health, and career), 2) use different methods to express your thanks (E.g. journal, mantra, sharing with a friend, or writing a blog post) and 3) get very specific about your thanks. For instance, although I’m broadly thankful for my health, today I could be thankful for my healthy heart, while tomorrow, I might express gratitude for my strong bones and muscles, and the next day, my young and creative mind.
- Enjoy the Little Things: We often look for the bigger, more obvious things to be grateful for, but when we can appreciate the smaller things, we find a new level of gratitude. Pay attention to your surroundings, your environment, and everyday joys. Maybe you are grateful for a sunny, warm day. Maybe you are grateful for a snow-day! Maybe you are grateful for a smile sent your way.
- Express to Loved Ones: It is so easy to take the people we appreciate for granted. Make a concerted effort to thank them openly, and to verbalize how much they mean to you. Not only will you make them feel good, bit this practice also makes you feel good. Positive expression of thanks and appreciation has a huge “pay it forward” impact that can create stronger, more loving relationships. Make an effort, at least once a week, to express your appreciation to those you love.
May you have a beautiful Thanksgiving with much gratitude and appreciation sent your way!