As I write this, it’s Thanksgiving week in the U.S.
This is a day when Americans are supposed to pause, reflect, and express gratitude for the positive things in our lives.
Brief history lesson – This holiday evolved from the “thanks giving” prayers of the explorers who originally discovered and colonized early America.
The difference between then and now is that our ancestors gave thanks for literally DAYS during this period (yes, I did pay attention during a small minority of history lectures).
But today, we usually give it about 30 seconds before we all ravage a bunch of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and other indulgences that leave us with what is scientifically know as a “food coma.”
Anyway, I could vent for days about the shortcomings of how we handle holidays and how it crushes our productivity and personal finances, but that’s a different discussion entirely, and we’ve skinned that cat before.
What I really want help you out with today is how continuous daily gratitude can positively impact your life.
Think for a moment
When is the last time you stopped and just thanked the world for all of the wonderful and positive things that exist in your life?
I don’t have it all figured out. Just like you, I’m continually growing my life knowledge, so if you asked me this question just about a year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer.
Fast forward to now, and I’m a much more grateful (and stress free) person, largely due to some advice from a friend of mine, Chris Winfield (thanks Chris), and a few short sessions with a behavioral psychologist.
Practicing daily gratitude, even if it’s just a minute of sitting quietly and reflecting on all of the positive things in your life, has been shown to:
- Increase alertness
- Increase enthusiasm
- Increase determination
- Increase motivation
- Increase optimism
- Increase energy
Daily gratitude can also:
Reduce stress, anxiety, depression and be a catalyst for all areas of personal development.
Sounds like a much cheaper and healthier alternative to all of those “happy pills” out there, but again, I digress. 🙂
I won’t dig deep into the research in this post, but if you’re an uber nerd like me and want to check it out, I recommend looking at Dr. Robert Emmons details in his book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.
Or for a shorter read, go here.
So, how do you give daily gratitude?
This doesn’t have to be something like meditating for half an hour every day (although some people do).
It can be as simple as stopping what you’re doing for 60 seconds and thinking about the great things in your life, and just saying “thanks” to the world. Even more powerful is journaling about what you are thankful for, or even talking with a friend or family member about all of the positivity that exists.
Whatever way you decide, it’s far better than nothing.
So my point with all of this is… give gratitude this week (and hopefully from this day forward) not because it’s a holiday and that’s what you’re “supposed to do.”
- Do so for a good reason.
- Do so because it makes you a better person.
- Do so because it makes you healthier and happier.
- Do so because it shifts your thinking to a higher plane of existence – one where you’re focused on all of the positive things in your life, instead of being obsessed with the things you don’t have.
And finally, do so because through this practice, you begin to not only improve yourself, but you bring everyone else up around you, which I believe to be one of the ultimate measures of success.