Giving Thanks: The Power of Gratitude

Giving Thanks

The Power of Gratitude

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Here in the U.S. it is Thanksgiving Day. This is a Day where you may celebrate with loved ones and take time to share with one another around the holiday table what you are grateful for. While this can be a wonderful expression of gratitude, when practiced every single day, it can change your entire perspective on life. A gratitude practice can improve your relationships and your attitude in general as it causes your brain to release feel-good hormones like endorphins. Having a regular gratitude practice is powerful and life-enhancing. 

Try incorporating the following practices daily and notice the impact on your mood, your energy, your relationships, your perspective of abundance and on your life as a whole. Practicing gratitude daily has been rigorously studied and proven to increase happiness as well as improve relationships.

The first practice to implement is using a daily gratitude journal. Writing down two things you are grateful for every single day will have a powerful impact on your perspective of abundance in your life. When you take time to recognize all that you do have right now rather than all you wish you had, you create a positive experience of the present moment.

Whether you are recognizing that you are grateful for what you may always have—like waking up in a warm bed or having a dishwasher creating some ease in your day—or for a kind gesture received from a friend or maybe someone held the elevator door for you when you were running late. Taking time to acknowledge the ordinary and the unusual creates positive, enriching feelings. 

When you write down what you are grateful for, take a moment to reflect on it. This creates an experience of savoring the memory, you are allowing that positivity to literally sink into your being and shift your internal experience. You are increasing the “feel-good” hormones in your brain and body.

Keeping a gratitude journal is a powerful tool to maintain a record of all of the good that exists in your life. Reflecting on what you have written in the past when you are feeling a sense of lack or feeling down can serve as a way to shift from a deprivation and down space emotionally and lift you back to a space of contentment. Try keeping a gratitude journal and notice the powerful impact on your life.

The second gratitude practice is telling your partner, child, loved one or friend something you appreciate about them each and every day. Harvel Hendrix, a long-time couples therapist said that couples that tell each other two things they appreciate about each other at the end of the day—every day—have more satisfying and long lasting relationships. This is similar to keeping a gratitude journal, it is just a verbal experience where you get to feel the positive feelings of “reliving” a positive element you noticed in your day.

Even if you are not currently in a relationship, you can have this shared experience with someone you care about, be it a friend, coworker, family member or child. Tell someone you care about what you appreciate about them and why. See how it feels for you to uplift someone. 

When something you did for a person you care about is reflected back to you, it creates a positive internal experience of feeling appreciated. Having that happen in a shared moment allows you to feel close as you end the day with a positive shared experience. Try this practice as well and notice the impact on yourself as well as your relationships.

The last gratitude practice I encourage you to try in order to build happiness and contentment in your life, is writing a gratitude letter. It has been shown that the experience of writing a gratitude letter and sharing it with the person you are grateful for can lift a mild depression for two weeks. That is incredibly powerful. Giving back, being kind and lifting up someone else naturally creates a positive internal experience. Ideally you can deliver and share the letter in person, but if you can’t that’s ok! Mail it, and see how it feels.

Shifting from a sense of lack to a sense of abundance, from a space of wanting to a space of being grateful for and content with exactly what you have right now is freeing. Moving from fear of loss to awareness of and gratitude for the present moment can have a profound impact on your mind, body and spirit. Creating a space for these gratitude practices and consistently engaging with them will create the most powerful results. When you try these practices, notice the impact on your life and let me know how they work for you.