Thanksgiving is such a perfect time to give thanks for all our blessings. Most Americans do that, which is wonderful, but how long can we maintain that thankful feeling? I recently heard someone say, “Isn’t it amazing how Americans can spend a whole day being thankful for all they have, and then trample each other the next day, to buy more stuff?”
What if we were thankful every day? What if we looked for things to be grateful for in our everyday lives? What if when we woke up, we thought about how lucky we are to have a bed to sleep in, a clock to keep us on schedule, running water to shower, food for breakfast, and a comfortable place to eat it. I know I’m especially grateful in the mornings for coffee.
Being thankful can truly affect your health. The Harvard Health Publications, Mayo Clinic, New York Times, Science Daily, WebMD and the Huffington Post have all reported on studies that conclude that feelings of gratitude lead to better health and happiness.
When a person feels grateful, it pushes away anger, depression, sadness, and anxiety. The more thankful you become, the less room there is for negative emotions. When negative emotions are replaced with positive ones, people feel better, and, according to www.Health.Harvard.Edu, actually wind up exercising more. This starts an upward spiraling motion into a state of well-being. The New York Times reported, “Cultivating an ‘attitude of gratitude’ has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others.”
So start looking for things to be grateful for. If that seems difficult, think of a large reason to be thankful and break it apart into smaller reasons. For example, if you’re thankful for your family, take time to be thankful for each person in your family: Mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, etc. Instead of feeling grateful for your home, feel grateful for the walls and roof that keep you warm and dry when it rains, the windows for letting in the light, the furniture to sit on, the dishes to eat from, the closets and drawers to store things. As you think of things, let yourself truly feel the gratitude, and then notice what happens as you do. The more time you take, the more you’ll realize how much you truly have to be thankful for.
To take it to the next level, express your feelings of gratitude. If someone holds a door open for you, look them in the eye and give them a genuine thank you. That’s so much different than looking at the ground and mumbling a barely audible, “thanks.”
If a family member does the dishes, takes out the trash or pours you a cup of coffee, tell them how much you appreciate them. It truly deepens the relationship. It’s amazing how such a simple, sincerely felt thank you can turn someone’s day around.
When someone receives gratitude, whether from a loved one or a complete stranger, it makes them feel good. It lifts them up. Everyone wants to be appreciated. Everyone. There is no exception. And it feels good to say an honest thank you. At some level, you can feel how your appreciation is received. You can never go wrong saying a sincere thank you.
If you want to fall asleep easily, count your blessings. If you want to wake up happily, count your blessings. If you want to turn your negative thoughts around, count your blessings. If you want to have a closer relationship with a family member or friend, tell them how grateful you are for them. If you want to feel more confident, tell yourself an honest compliment. If you want to make someone’s day, tell them why you appreciate them.
Make it a daily habit to be grateful. You’ll be surprised how much comes back to you.