As we count down the days leading up to Thanksgiving, let's not allow the whirlwind rush of this season make the richness of this holiday pass us by. Thanksgiving serves as such a powerful annual reminder for us to slow down, spend time with our loved ones, and intentionally practice gratitude and thankfulness.
Practicing gratitude, whether by expressing it to others or acknowledging it to yourself, provides so many benefits to our overall health and well-being. Saying "thank you" to others isn't just a nice thing to do--it's a healthy thing to do! Cultivating an "attitude of gratitude" is a simple way to experience greater joy and fulfillment in your life. Here are three of the ways practicing gratitude can benefit you:
1) Gratitude can improve your relationship satisfaction. One of the best ways to turn the tables on defensiveness and negativity in your relationship is to intentionally practice gratitude toward your partner. We thrive when we feel valued and appreciated--and this is never more true than in our long-term, committed relationships. Not only does this help our partners to know how much we care about about them, but it also helps us deepen our empathy for them, avoid tunnel vision regarding their negative traits, and feel more satisfied in our relationships.
2) Gratitude has been shown to provide physical health benefits. Many studies have shown a correlation between practicing gratitude and physical health. Gratitude has been linked to decreased experiences of pain, stronger immune systems, and lower blood pressure. Additionally, people who practice gratitude are more likely to engage in healthy lifestyle activities such as regular doctor visits and exercising.
3) Gratitude supports your mental health and well-being. Research has uncovered many mental health benefits to practicing gratitude. People who practice gratitude often report experiencing greater joy, happiness, and self-esteem. Gratitude deepens their sense of connectedness and meaning in life, enabling them to feel compassion and empathy for others. People who practice gratitude tend to report lower levels of emotions like resentment and envy, and practicing gratitude has even been connected to a reduced incidence of depression. It is also connected with developing the resilience needed to overcome traumatic events in life and can help us manage stress well.
This Thanksgiving, take some time to practice gratitude by noticing the things in your life that create joy and meaning. Make a list of the people in your life who support and care for you. Write a thank you note to someone you cherish expressing your gratitude. May we all take the spirit of gratitude that Thanksgiving stirs up in us and carry it with us into our daily lives.