Recent research studies have shown that being thankful boosts our immune system and increases blood flow to the heart. So even though we may overeat, or sit around watching football games on Thanksgiving, we can actually boost both physical and emotional health by holding the energy of gratitude.
Emotionally, people who describe themselves as feeling grateful tend to suffer less stress and depression than those who do not express gratitude. Unfortunately, gratitude does not seem to come naturally to many of us. But fortunately, we can cultivate a spirit of gratefulness, with practice. Even better news is that we can do this daily, not just on Thanksgiving.
Studies have also shown that engaging in a regular habit of expressing gratitude, like thinking of three things for which you are grateful each day, or keeping a gratitude journal can increase our mental alertness, enthusiasm, energy and even improve our sleep. Some folks find the practice of thinking of three things for which they are grateful each morning over coffee or breakfast helps set a great tone for the day. Put a sticky note at your breakfast place to remind you, or on the bathroom mirror.
Others prefer creating their gratitude list just before going to sleep. Put a sticky note on your alarm clock to remind you until it becomes a nightly habit. Drifting off to sleep with thankful thoughts sure beats trying to go to sleep after watching the nightly news! And why not try both starting and ending the day with gratitude? Hopefully you brush your teeth first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Why not choose to consciously develop the habit of starting and ending your days with one, or three gratitude thoughts?
When we choose to focus on our blessings, it tends to be easier to keep our problems and worries perspective.
Here, I’ll get you started: Today, you can be grateful that I’m not going to ramble on and on with this column. There, now you come up with two more!
I’d like to share three favorite quotes on thankfulness:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie, is an American author of self-help books on codependent relationships.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~ William Arthur Ward, is one of America’s most quoted writers of inspirational maxims.
“A basic law: the more you practice the art of thankfulness, the more you have to be thankful for.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale, was a minister, author and pioneer of positive thinking.
Through the holidays, Thanksgiving right on through the New Year, may you be blessed with a grateful heart. And may you share that grateful heart with those you meet; blessing them, and yourself as well.