A steaming hot mug of peppermint tea. Sharing a good laugh with your best friend on the phone. Going for a hike on a crisp, clear, fall day. Thanksgiving; a time to reflect on all we have to be thankful for! But is putting gratitude on the calendar one day a year enough to embrace this attitude?
In a recent study, two groups of people were asked to journal 5 things each day over a two week period: group one, 5 things for which they were grateful, and group two, 5 things that were a hassle. The benefits for those who jotted down their daily appreciation were clear. These grateful people showed more alertness, optimism, enthusiasm, energy, and determination. They showed lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels, lower blood pressure, and reported less depression, better sleep, and a higher likelihood of achieving personal goals. Not to mention the positive impact on the way they think and feel! In essence: expressing gratitude regularly contributes to overall happiness in a big way.
Seems like recognizing our blessings is a worthwhile activity! But how can we go about feeling and showing our thanks? Here are some simple ideas to get your attitude of gratitude flowing:
Gratitude Journal: Just like Oprah suggested way back when, get yourself a journal, and as a great addition to your morning or evening ritual, jot down 5 (or more!) things for which you are grateful. This gratitude can be for ANYTHING, big or small! Your loving partner, the particularly delicious apple you ate earlier, existence, the kind smile from the old lady in the line up at the grocery store, anything. If you’re short on time, this needn’t be a hassle – keep a small notebook with you, and in those in between moments when you’re waiting for your dentist appointment or your daughter’s Judo lesson to wrap up, make that time count by writing some notes of thanks.
Gratitude Rock: A gratitude rock is a small keepsake or momento, and the idea is that when you touch it or see it, you take a moment to feel gratitude and say thanks. You can keep it in your pocket, your purse, in the console of your car, the table in your entrance way where you drop your keys when you walk in the door, anywhere that works. And of course, this doesn’t need to be an actual rock! It can be a small figurine, your key chain, anything that works for you to initiate those thankful thoughts.
Consistently acknowledging and appreciating the people who make a difference in our lives: Sometimes we feel gratitude towards someone for doing a special something for us, or just for being who they are. Instead of keeping this feeling within, why not take a moment to express this gratitude, and let them know we appreciate their presence? As William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” This can be in the form of a phone call, a quick email or text, or even taking the time to write a thank you note or card. And by the way, acknowledging the people who make a positive impact in our lives includes appreciating yourself!
It seems as though we could all benefit from counting our blessings and adopting an attitude of gratitude! So, as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, what are you thankful for?
Happy Thanksgiving from Mountain Trek!