For most of us, the Thanksgiving holiday provides the perfect opportunity to step back, reflect, and think about those things of which we are most grateful. A wonderful sentiment and a lovely tradition, but an even better exercise practiced daily.
The ability to express gratitude can be challenging, especially when the world we live in has so much chaos, or we hit tough times and see others around us doing better than ourselves. All of us are guilty of wishing certain things could be different—that we had more money, a bigger home, could finally meet that special someone, could travel more, or buy those expensive designer clothes. The list could go on and on.
Spending just a few moments each morning or evening listing out in our minds or even better, on paper, the simple things that we are so blessed to have can be life changing. A roof over our heads, food on the table, good health, friends and family who care about us, new or unique experiences and opportunities, and just those small, simple moments—there are an infinite number of things for which to be grateful. Being appreciative of what we have now opens the doors to more wonderful things to come.
There are countless benefits to this daily ritual, including:
- Makes us happier people – Expressing gratitude fills our minds with the good things in our lives. Consequently, we begin to feel happy. I don’t believe that feeling happy all day, everyday is necessarily healthy, but I do believe that feeling happy as much and as often as we can vastly improves our state of mind and improves our health.
- Supports a positive mindset – Additionally, once we begin to feel happy, we tend to lean towards viewing the world with a more positive filter. Being appreciative for what we have, not focusing on what we don’t have, shifts our life story and engages us with new possibilities.
- Eliminates stress – Gratitude has an amazing way of calming us. Depending on some of those things we list, it reminds us that we were able to get beyond stressful situations in the past without harm, and in many cases, thriving on the other side. Take a breath, focus on the good, and feel your body relax.
- Increases energy levels – On the flipside, as we regularly practice gratitude, our energy levels become renewed. Suddenly we feel lighter and ready to try new things, continually adding to our already wonderful list.
“You cannot be fearful and grateful at the same time.” — Tony Robbins
- Eliminates fear – As Tony Robbins says, “You cannot be fearful and grateful at the same time.” I had never thought about it before, but he’s absolutely right. Fear can stop us in our tracks. When you find yourself confronted with fear, begin listing what you’re grateful for, as much as you can, as fast as you can, and nip it in the bud.
- Renews our focus on what’s important – Once we stop focusing on all that’s wrong, the fog clears and we miraculously begin to focus on what’s most important. And where focus goes, energy flows.
- Reminds us of how little we need – We really are more simple creatures than we realize. We don’t need as much as we think, and can live more fulfilling lives once we stop trying to fill it with stuff and things. None of that really matters and it certainly doesn’t make us any happier. It’s been proven that those that have money over a certain level are no happier, and often times less happy, than those who get by.
- Inspires us to give to others – I don’t know about you, but when I take an honest view of what’s good and wonderful in my life, I can more easily see where there is greater need. I think most of us are hard wired to want to do for others, and shifting the focus away from our own problems and ourselves amplifies our desire to help, give, share, and lend a hand.
- Helps us to be more compassionate – Complementary to a spirit of giving, compassion is our ability to be more sympathetic, empathetic, and impulsively want to alleviate the pain and suffering of others. Gratitude can place us at the precipice of our own experiences and therefore more instinctively know what others are feeling, thinking, and requiring from humanity.
“The power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe — you open the door through gratitude.” — Deepak Chopra
- Gifts us with more to be grateful for — As the Law of Attraction states, like attracts like. A life of gratitude attracts more to be grateful for, while negative thinking and focus on what we don’t have only attracts more of the same. As Deepak Chopra explains, “The power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe — you open the door through gratitude.”
Begin today. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and begin to think about everything you are grateful for. Pause and reflect on each one for a moment, really feeling it and what it brings to your life.
I am blessed to be spending this holiday week in beautiful San Diego with most of my siblings and their families. I am incredibly grateful for each and every one of these radiant souls, always enriching my life–with their unconditional love, deep-in-your-gut belly laughter, nourishing food, delicious wine, and engaging stories and memories we share all week.
From my family to yours, have an incredible Thanksgiving! And don’t forget to show your appreciation with expressions of heartfelt gratitude. It will change your life.
Image Credit: ©iStock.com/marekuliasz