The holidays are here. And we’ve all had a rough go of it this year. It can be hard to summon up things to be grateful for when everything feels so upside down.
Even though we don’t celebrate “Thanksgiving” here, we do see an awful lot of gratitude and ‘being thankful’ posts at this time of year. And this year more than ever, I say bring on the thankfulness!
Coronavirus has brought loneliness and separation like we’ve never seen. Social distancing, being apart from family and loved ones, it’s been a ROUGH year. We live in lonely times. The elderly are lonely. The teens are lonely. Both in cities and in rural areas, it’s now considered a public-health issue with physical health effects.
So why is gratitude so important? It actually makes me feel BETTER both physically and emotionally.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – proverb
A “gratitude list,” in case you’re not down with the self help book genre and trendy technique for feeling better, is an exercise designed to shift your mood and attitude. It is during times of profound irritation that gratitude lists have the most poignant impact on my life.
Gratitude and anger cannot inhabit the same emotional space.
No matter what form your gratitude list takes, it’s a free and utterly enjoyable way to bring light to your life. There are many benefits associated with creating more gratitude in your life. Consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives—they even feel more physically healthy and spend more time exercising. Other benefits of finding your inner attitude of gratitude:
- You’re less likely to feel jealous, because you’re grateful for what you have instead of always thinking about what you don’t
- You’re more likely to live within your means
- You’ll be more able to feel (and show) generosity to others
What does it mean to be grateful?
Gratitude can be defined as a feeling of thankfulness for a benefit that an individual has received. It is not the same as indebtedness where the individual feels that they owe something to somebody else and are therefore under obligation to repay them. People can experience gratitude towards other people or just the events in their life. Gratitude gives people a sense of grace.
Gratitude changes your brain…
Practicing gratitude increases your dopamine production which encourages your brain to seek our more of the same. It’s the brain saying, “Oh, do that again” which means the more you are grateful for, the more you will find to be grateful for.
Why make a list – can’t I just “think” it and get the same result?
The aim of a gratitude list is to help people focus on the good things that are in their lives….. right NOW. We have a tendency to take things for granted, but this type of writing can prevent this from happening. By keeping a record of the things for which you are grateful, you can increase your positive mojo and have a new lease on life. How? (Glad you asked.)
- Write out your gratitude list (yes by hand. no typing.) The actual physical experience of writing is valuable. The physical act of pen in hand helps imprint the feeling of gratitude at the most basic level. Also, since it is a slower process than typing, writing by hand provides more time for contemplation, which makes for a more thoughtful list.
- Get REAL (no really.) Avoid setting yourself up for failure by starting with a reasonable number. If you try something crazy like ‘100 things I’m grateful for’, you’ll end up including stuff that not even the most zealous gratitude junkie would list. Better to limit yourself to one good reason than to dredge up sludge from a too-deep well.
- A picture’s worth a thousand words. If writing isn’t your thing you can channel your inner creative and make a vision board. I use Pinterest for this. Literally, a vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.
Once you start seeing the extra goodness your gratitude list brings to your life, you may find one more thing to be grateful for: the very practice of gratitude itself.
Take the gratitude challenge with me… let’s make this entire holiday season ALL about gratitude.
List (or picture) 10 things you are grateful for every single day. You can choose when and where you do this but create a space to make a physical list every day. (Remember Pinterest is AMAZING for vision boards!)
Let’s talk about it!