On the fourth Thursday of November, Americans of all religious faiths, personal beliefs and purpose, pause to give thanks. Other countries also celebrate Thanksgiving with different dates and customs. Beliefs and traditions about how the holiday are celebrated may differ, yet the ultimate meaning centers around the same principle:
Thanksgiving looks very different this year. Whether celebrating in person or virtually, people may find it difficult to feel grateful with all they have endured. We face monumental challenges with the pandemic, political, social and financial strife. No doubt we are experiencing unprecedented times.
So where is the gratitude? How about if we give thanks for what we have, even if it is small. This is not always easy, as human have a negativity bias where our brains respond more intensely to negative events than positive ones. This affects how we feel, think and act and can affect our psychological state.
Research has proven that a regular gratitude practice can rewire your brain and body for positive health by increasing dopamine, decreasing pain, inducing better sleep, reducing depression, anxiety and stress. A daily gratitude practice improves relationships, careers, increases energy levels and develops an overall healthier lifestyle.
A gratitude practice is simple. Each day we consciously begin with a mindset of gratitude. Following are some suggestions from my gratitude practice: every morning before getting out of bed, I give thanks for the gift of another brand new day. For my cozy warm bed. I am grateful for my healthy body, my gift of sight, smell, hearing. For the steamy hot cup of coffee, for a warm shower. I am grateful for the love of family and friends that provide laughter and love. I am grateful for my home, healthy food, clothes to wear, for the gift of work. For my mentors and teachers that have guided me through my struggles, pain and growth.
The list grows as you continue with your practice. You find yourself becoming more positive for the little things: the driver letting you merge instead of getting angry at the one that didn’t. The stranger that smiled at you. The beauty around you. The peaceful sunrise, majestic trees and beautiful flowers on your walk or in your garden. The list is endless. More importantly, you are rewiring your brain from the default negative setting to positivity. Start small. Practice first thing each morning for a few minutes. With regular practice our gratitude muscle increases until it becomes habit.
You're a blessing my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!