Among the heartbreaks, losses, chaos, and confusion, there are gifts. Being able to recognize them not only lifts our spirits, but also helps our bodies, minds, and relationships.
What you focus on expands, for better or worse.
Focus on what’s lacking and what you cannot control, and you’ll live as a hostage to self-pity and powerlessness. Focus on all the potential dangers, and you’ll live as a hostage to worry and fear.
On the other hand…
Focus on the all good in your life, the people you love, on what you can control, on what inspires you and moves you, focus on what you can do to help this world, and you will tap into a sense of gratitude and passion that would make you feel fortunate and empowered no matter how difficult the circumstances around you are.
In fact, clinical research shows that giving thanks is actually good for your overall well-being. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, delight in good experiences, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.
Counting blessings boosts your health. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D, a psychology professor at the University of California-Davis, and author of Gratitude Works! is one of the pioneers of research into the ways that gratitude affects our lives. Emmons’ research showed that people with high blood pressure who actively express thankfulness can actually lower their blood pressure “achieving up to a 10 percent reduction in systolic blood pressure”.
In another study Emmons’ and McCullough’s research showed that grateful people had less depression and stress, more energy, and greater optimism.
Being thankful helps foster strong bonds and healthier relationships. Research by U.S. psychologists Sara Algoe and Baldwin Way indicates that giving thanks and showing appreciation promotes the increased production of oxytocin, also known as the “bonding hormone” because it fosters a sense of calm and security in our relationships.
With benefits like these, maybe we should practice being thankful more than once a year.
Here are some ways to give thanks on a regular basis.
1) Give thanks in prayer. People who are religious can start their prayers giving thanks for all the blessings they are receiving, even before they start asking for what they want or need.
2) Give thanks in a letter. nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. If possible, personally deliver this letter of gratitude Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
3) Give thanks mentally. Just think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
4) Give thanks in a journal. Make a commitment to write down at least three things you’re grateful for each day for 30 days. Make each one as specific as possible — there’s value in the details. Emmons said: “It will shift your reality.”
5) Give thanks in meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Focus on what you’re grateful for in the present (the warmth of the sun, the flavor of the food, the comfort of your bed, the silence of the night, etc.).
6) Give thanks to the people around you. Our lives are so hectic and driven, both in our professional and personal life, that we just don’t stop to say “Thank you” enough. Without meaning to, we often take for granted how we feel about others, how much they do for us, and how much we value them. Make it a point to go out of your way to express your love, appreciation, and gratitude.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we must elevate above our innate negativity bias that keeps us stuck in patterns of thought that leave us living in a perpetual state of complaint, scarcity, fear, anger, and inadequacy. Giving thanks helps us to connect to something larger than ourselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
And, although it may feel unnatural at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
You’ll see, focus on gratitude and you’ll feel not only extremely blessed and fortunate but also, you’d become a blessing to those around you.
“The gift of giving thanks is that it magnifies our blessings and expands our ability to be a blessing to others.” – Margie Warrell – Happy Thanksgiving!
I give to all of you my sincere gratitude to you, THANK YOU!