Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for all we have.  This includes the seniors in our lives that provide wisdom and love for all of us.  We need to show gratitude for those who have come before us – they have paved the way for the life we have today. Their knowledge, experiences, and stories have mentored us to be better at our jobs, better parents, and just better humans in general. 

What is Gratitude?

 Is it when you’re happy and thankful about a gift? Is it when you get a compliment or something good happens and you have that warm fuzzy feeling and say “Thank you”? The clinical definition of gratitude “Appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation”.  It doesn’t take big, shiny objects to create gratitude; you can train yourself to constantly be grateful for the little things in life. We’ve all heard the saying, “Stop and smell the roses.” This saying is trying to say that by taking the time to stop and smell the roses, we can be grateful for the little things in life. Smelling that rose gets the clutter out of your mind and you focus on the smell of the rose, breath it in and in that moment-the rest of the world doesn’t matter. At that moment you are simply thankful for that fragrance. 

I’m thankful for my grandparents.

I was blessed to have very thankful grandparents. They were not rich or famous, but they were thankful for everything and every day. You can learn to be thankful, and I promise you it will make your life wonderful. Once you learn to create and cultivate that feeling within yourself, gratitude turns into a tool you can use to actively reshape thought pathways in your brain. Yep…you can strengthen the parts of your brain that are associated with positive thinking. In my life, if I’m sitting on 65 or 280 in a traffic jam. I smile, look at the angry people and wonder why they are angry. An entitled mindset can never be thankful.  We’re not riding camels or donkeys, we’re comfortable and entertained while we sit. I use that time to be mindful of my life. While the traffic sucks to those around me, I realize most of the world is walking to a creek with a bucket to get water for their family, then going to find food. I am more comfortable in that traffic jam than many people in the world are in their homes. Thankfulness comes pretty easy when you look at how blessed we are. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “in everything give thanks” Count blessings, not sheep.

 Research 

Research in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression

Gratitude improves self-esteem.. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs—a major factor in reduced self-esteem—grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments. 

Other positive attributes to being grateful:

  • Gratitude increases mental strength.
  • Gratitude improves resilience.
  • Gratitude improves sleep.
  • Gratitude strengthens relationships.
  • Gratitude improves physical health.

 

Research from Northeastern University has found that people who felt grateful for little, everyday things were more patient and better able to make sensible decisions, compared to those who didn’t feel very gracious on a day-to-day basis. For example, when 105 undergraduate students were asked to choose between receiving a small amount of money immediately or a larger sum in the future, the students who had shown more gratitude in earlier experiments were able to hold out for more cash.

Still not convinced?

The benefits of gratitude are well-documented. Spending just 10 minutes a day thinking about what you’re grateful for helps you focus on the positive and drown out any negatives – and not just in the moment. In as little as two weeks, a daily gratitude practice rewires your brain to make you happier and more optimistic. So, gratitude makes you happier, healthier, have better relationships, lowers stress, and gives you more friends. Why not begin practicing gratefulness today since it is Thanksgiving? Take a few minutes to list what you’re thankful for. I promise that this practice will change your life – it has ours.

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Have a grateful and happy Thanksgiving!