Gratitude. It’s what Thanksgiving is all about. Well, that and the binge eating. This year more than ever, I hope you set aside some time for gratitude. Did you know actively practicing gratitude has been proven to improve physical health, sleep, psychological health, empathy, and mental strength? It also reduces aggression, enhances self-esteem and results in more social connections. I doubt any of us have mastered all of those things, so here are some simple, easy steps you can take this Thanksgiving to actively practice gratitude and improve your life:
1. Clear Your Mind
This step is important and not to be overlooked! It is very difficult to activate true gratitude and accomplish the health benefits listed above without first clearing our minds and getting into the right headspace. I find that meditation is a great way to clear my mind. Although the term “meditation” can seem intimidating or off-putting to some, it’s really quite simple. Just find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Breathe in for 3 seconds. Breathe out for 3 seconds. Repeat at least 3 times. If you’re struggling to slow down your mind, I recommend doing a body scan. Simply feel the sensations of each part of your body, from your scalp all the way down to the tip of your toes, one body part at a time. There are also excellent apps you can download for guided meditation, such as Calm or Simple Habit.
2. Gratitude Around You
Once your mind is open and your body feels relaxed, you can begin to let gratitude in. Take out a sheet of paper or journaling notebook. It’s important to physically write out these gratitude practices rather than typing them into a phone, tablet or laptop. When we physically write things down, we tend to process them more deeply and internalize them more. Start by identifying 1 thing in the room around you for which you’re grateful. This can be the fresh water that comes from the faucet, the clothes on your body, a pet sitting next to you, etc. Write it down.
3. Gratitude For Others
Now repeat step 2, but think of 3 things you’re grateful for in other people. Again, this can simply be the name of a person for whom you’re grateful, or something a friend did for you. Write all 3 down.
4. Gratitude For Yourself
Finally, identify just 1 thing about yourself for which you’re grateful. This can be a personality trait, something you did in the past year, etc. Write it down.
5. Saying Thanks
The final step is to review your gratitude journal. This step may seem silly, but I think you’ll find that it makes a lasting impact and closes out your gratitude practice nicely. Read the first thing on your list, then stop. Say thank you (in your head or out loud) for that thing. Do this for each thing on your list, really taking the time to pause and give thanks. Lastly, thank yourself for setting aside the time for this gratitude practice.
It’s that simple! If you’re able to keep an ongoing gratitude journal – whether it’s daily, once a week or once a month – you’ll be amazed at the many positive changes you’ll start to experience in your life.
Thank you for reading this.