Thanksgiving and a Return to Gratitude
With Thanksgiving and the season of joy upon us, we may feel led to think about all of the reasons we have to be thankful. As the year comes to an end, we take note of our lives and appreciate our own abundance and success. This is truly a wonderful awareness that is unfortunately all too often overlooked the rest of the year as we push through the daily grind, overcome personal setbacks or even surmount tragedies. Life can be hard and get in the way, but just maybe this Thanksgiving tradition could take even the worst moments and turn them around all year long!
Yes, gratitude is a lovely sentiment, and when we think about it, most of us are very grateful for something or someone in our lives. We know that exercising this awareness can help us feel more satisfied in life and suppress our inner consumers. We’ve heard of gratitude apps, journals and daily calendars. It seems to be a buzz word among Zen thinkers and personal development seminars, and though we can’t find anything wrong with being more appreciative, does this little habit deserve all the hype?
According to scientists and group studies, yes!
1. Gratitude can make you a healthier person.
A study in 2012 revealed that people who are naturally grateful in life and hold an awareness of their lack of need actually reported fewer pains or problems in their health. Gratitude seemed to help people live healthier and act as a motivation to care for their bodies. They exercised more, ate higher quality, health foods and attended more regular doctor check-ups. This shows a deeper appreciation for your own body, the food you put into it, the movements it’s capable of and the overall life you were given! You're more likely to start your day off with a creamy Terra Origin Vanilla Bone Broth if you're not clambering for coffee just to open your eyes. This in turn will feed your body and your mind making for a more beautiful day.
2. Gratitude can save you from loneliness.
We all like a little appreciation when we do something helpful or kind, and that is what a 2014 study proved by linking thankful actions to continued relationships. When you hear someone acknowledge your actions on their behalf, be it holding the elevator door or lending a hand moving in the new neighbor, you feel seen by them. Saying, “thank you” may be a small gesture but it has a big impact on how we feel about the person and if we want to know them better. Open gratitude among friends and in partnerships also helps to support the relationships’ longevity.
3. Gratitude can balance unhealthy emotions.
When we are thankful for what we have and the people in our lives, it shifts our focus into a deep satisfaction with our life instead of a comparison with what others have. It is natural to make judgements and comparisons with others who seem to have more or better. We’ve built a culture around ‘keeping up with the Joneses!’ Yet multiple studies have proven that increased gratitude can squash envy, greed, resentment, frustration and a host of other unhealthy outlooks. Operating in daily thankfulness can actually make you happier!
4. Gratitude can boost your self-esteem.
When those toxic emotions of regret, jealousy and competition have been abandoned for a deep appreciation of you and yours, this automatically improves your self-esteem. You now see yourself and your life in a different, appreciative way. You are grateful for your body as it is and your belongings for what they are. This boost to self not only makes you more likeable, but it can also encourage you to reach for dreams you once didn’t think you were good enough to have. A 2014 study on athletes showed that gratitude boosted their self-esteem which in turn improved their performance. They could respect the accomplishments of others without it becoming a comparison of their own success. When you believe in yourself, anything is possible!
5. Gratitude makes you a stronger person.
Finding joy and satisfaction with what you have may not increase your bench press, but it will fortify your mind in times of trouble. Several studies have been done on those who went through disasters, war and overwhelming loss, and each one showed that people who embraced gratitude in their darkest moments found a mental and emotional resiliency that pulled them through. There were less cases of PTSD, depression and bitterness. If you are still breathing air and your heart continues to pump blood through your body, you have an amazing thing to be grateful for, life.
Thanksgiving can certainly shine a light on gratitude as we eat a fine meal with friends and family but let that be an explosion of the daily appreciation we already have. It may not be an easy habit which is why the apps and journals have taken center stage. Before you go to bed each night try to write down the things in your day which made you smile, felt good or reminded you of how lucky you really are. You don’t need a journal. Sticky notes or a white board work just as well. This one little action can actually help you sleep better! If this seems like a bit much to add into your life right now, a nudge in the right direction may help. Try Terra Origin Inner Balance along with Healthy Sleep to soothe your mind and allow the gratitude to feel more natural.
As this becomes easier, try to pause during your day as you slice an apple or turn on a light and give thanks for fresh food to eat and electricity at your fingertips. On the way to work, as you sit in traffic, be grateful for a job to go to and a car to sit in. Even if you’re balancing a negative bank account, take a moment to feel good that you have clothes on your back, a roof over your head and the mental clarity to still do the math and see that this too shall pass.