“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle
Thanksgiving is the time to gather with loved ones and give thanks for life’s many blessings.
Gratitude involves noticing the goodness in the world. It doesn’t mean being blind to the challenges and hardships that may surround you, but instead, gratitude makes sure that in the midst of the things that invoke negative feelings, you don’t lose sight of the good.
Gratitude is powerful. Research has shown that gratitude can improve general well-being, increase resilience, strengthen social relationships, and reduce stress and depression. Being grateful contributes to overall well-being and life satisfaction. Research demonstrates that focusing on what you are grateful for is a universally rewarding way to feel happier and more fulfilled.
Gratitude also cultivates a stronger immune system, lowers blood pressure and supports better sleeps. When you are grateful, you become more alert, more generous, have greater compassion and are happier with a greater capacity for joy and positive emotions.
Benefits Of Gratitude
When the brain feels gratitude, it activates those parts of the brain involved in feelings of reward (the reward when stress is removed), morality, interpersonal bonding and positive social interactions, and the ability to understand what other people are thinking or feeling.
Gratitude also has the capacity to increase important neurochemicals. When thinking shifts from negative to positive there is an increase in feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These all contribute to the feelings of closeness, connection and happiness that come with gratitude.
Some specific and evidence-backed benefits of gratitude include:
Improves Mental Well-Being
The benefits of gratitude intervention might have a limited impact on reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and should not be used in place of medical consultation or advice. That being said, if you are working to manage your mental health and stress, gratitude could still play a part. Always discuss your mental health issues with your health professional first
Research has found that those who practised gratitude reported ‘considerably more satisfaction with their lives as a whole.’ They felt more optimism about the future, as well as more connection with others. Participating in gratitude results in substantial and consistent improvements in the perception of personal wellbeing.
Enhances Positive Emotions
As well as being a positive emotion in itself, gratitude also tends to bring out the best in other sensations. This is because positive emotions allow people to build psychological, intellectual, and social resources. Furthermore, practices such as gratitude may play a role in motivating people to engage in positive behaviours leading to self-improvement.
Expressing gratitude helps with emotions such as connectedness, elevation, and humility
Improves Self Esteem
One of the markers of long-term wellbeing is self-esteem which is defined as your opinion of your own worth. Gratitude can be used as a tool to increase satisfaction with life and self-esteem.
Supports Physical Health
There is evidence to suggest that gratitude can also bring about positive impacts on your physical health. Studies reveal a positive correlation between gratitude and self-reported physical health, the desire to participate in healthy activities, and a willingness to seek help for health concerns. There were further links between gratitude and healthy activities.
Encourages Social Connection
Gratitude is part of human biology, and along with reciprocity, is seen throughout nature. These mechanisms allow for the exchange of things for the mutual benefit of both parties. When someone does something nice for you, your brain reacts by creating a desire to repay the favour – you care for others and others care about you.
Research has shown that even something as small as thanking someone for their help can make a social relationship more likely. Further studies have shown that being grateful towards your partner can boost your romantic relationships.
Gratitude – it’s more powerful with the things you do than the things you own (even if what you own is lovely).
Research has found that you tend to feel more grateful for experiences than for the things you have. There doesn’t seem to be any clear reason for this, but one of the theories is that experiences are less likely to trigger social comparisons. While ‘things’ can tempt comparison (and judgement) around what you have and what other people have, experiences are more likely to shift your focus to our own personal circumstances, and expand feelings of appreciation, happiness and contentment.
A gratitude practice provides perspective and allows your focus to shift from your inner conversation and reflect on what matters most.
In being grateful for small things you take for granted, your mind is conditioned to focus on the good. And after doing this time and time and time again, it can become a part of who you are.
As wonderful as this may sound, beginning and maintaining gratitude practice can be challenging and motivation wanes quickly and may often lose out to activities that provide more entertainment value.
If you are in search of inspiration, a few of these ideas on expressing gratitude may resonate with you
Important people. Your friends, family, and even your colleagues can play a big role in your life. Think about the people whose love and support has helped you through difficult times and those who have been there with you for the good times
Simple pleasures. There are many simple, perhaps small, everyday things that bring you joy. A nice cup of coffee, music that makes you smile, a piece of clothing that feels particularly good to wear. Anything that has brought you pleasure can be celebrated.
Acts of kindness. If someone has done something nice for you, no matter how small, being grateful can enhance your positive feelings. Similarly, if you’ve carried out a kind act, you can celebrate the mutually shared experience.
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Happy memories. Gratitude is not limited to the present; you could focus on positive moments from the past. Memorable days, happy events, or times when you’ve felt content and at peace are all worth being grateful for.
Tranquil moments. Be grateful for the time you have to reflect on life or the moments where you can relax and take in all that’s around you. They don’t need to be incredible or extra special; you can still express gratitude for them.
Accomplishments. During your life, you will have worked towards goals, mastered skills, and demonstrated your abilities. Highlighting these accomplishments can help to boost your self-esteem.
Nature. The world that surrounds you is packed with wonder and beauty. Consider something from your environment that you find appealing or amazing, or simply enjoyable: the warm sun on your face, the smell of freshly cut grass, the beauty of the fall leaves or the or the sound of the ocean.
Gratitude is perhaps the most important key to finding success and happiness in our crazy, modern world. Knowing what you appreciate in life means knowing who you are, what matters to you and what makes each day worthwhile. Paying attention to what you feel grateful for creates a positive mindset and connects you to both the world around you and to yourself.
We give thanks to each of you for being part of our lives and our community – Happy Thanksgiving