Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not just because of the beautiful autumn colors, time spent with family or pumpkin availability (think Pumpkin Spice latte, pumpkin pie and pumpkin patches) but for the representation and focus of the holiday – giving thanks and expressing gratitude.
Researchers in the field of positive psychology have found that people who take time to reflect and focus on what they have (instead of what they do not have) and what they are grateful for are less likely to be depressed. It’s true that counting our blessings and reflecting on all we are grateful for is one way to generate positive thoughts. In addition to improving mood, expressing gratitude may lead to better physical health, specifically a decrease in inflammation and improved heart rhythms.
Expressing gratitude is a positive habit and mindset that only takes a few minutes and can be incorporated into every day. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Express to yourself or someone else at least 3 things you are grateful for;
- Consider what you have that is often taken for granted (e.g. running water that heats up when you turn on a facet, the fact that food is usually not hard to come by or that you usually know where your next meal will come from, freedom, employment that provides an income, your health, family members and their health, etc.)
- Reflect upon what you are proud of or have accomplished in the last day, week, month or year. Give yourself credit for these things.
- Consider at least 3 things that you are most grateful for in a loved one (significant other, spouse, friend, other family member) and express your gratitude to this person.
- Thank those people who you feel have supported, inspired, encouraged or helped you in some way.