Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to relax with family and friends, eat delicious food, and express gratitude for all the good things life sends our way. Gratitude comes into the spotlight on Thanksgiving, but the habit of being grateful for life’s abundance has been shown to improve people’s health all year long.
What do we mean by gratitude?
Gratitude is a mindset that focuses on the good things in life and recognizes that many of them come from the grace of others or a higher power.
Beyond focusing on what life offers instead of what it does not, gratitude is a social feeling, one that acknowledges goodness often comes from somewhere outside the self. According to Harvard Health:
“Gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals—whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”
Over the years, Thanksgiving has lost much of its religious significance, and now focuses more on eating a good meal. As Thanksgiving has become increasingly connected with Black Friday and retailer’s deep discounts, the excitement to start Christmas shopping sometimes overshadows ideas of giving thanks for the abundance already present. However, celebrating Thanksgiving is a good reminder of the power of gratitude and the importance of taking time to recognize the good things in life.
How to practice gratitude every day
Gratitude can become a daily practice, not just on Thanksgiving. Here’s how.
1. Stay in the present moment
Often, thoughts turn to lack when the mind is mired in the future or the past. We think about what we don’t have or things that might go wrong or those that have gone wrong. But in the present moment, with food in front of us, or loved ones, or a good book, it’s easier to focus on the good things in life.
2. Try not to complain
Focusing on worries can make them loom larger in the mind. This can be a tricky step for people with chronic pain to navigate. If you’re in pain and need help, by all means, ask for it.
Complaining, on the other hand, does nothing to alleviate pain or improve a situation. Instead, it tends to magnify issues and makes you feel powerless over them. If you’re having a particularly bad pain day, try accepting that reality totally. Then, see if there’s something that can be done.
Focusing on the good things in life and developing feelings of gratitude may, over time, help improve the health, according to Harvard Health Publications. This takes practice, so try the best you can.
Every time you recognize your thoughts lingering over things that aren’t going well, try to change them to think about things that are going well. Irritation about standing in the line at the grocery store might change into, “I’m so thankful for all the food I’m about to buy.”
3. End each day with thoughts about the things that went well
Sometimes, it’s easy to think about all the bad things that happened during the day, or the ways we messed up or could have done better. While it’s good to evaluate our lives and selves to identify areas of improvement, it’s better to end the day on a positive note.
Recognize small victories, like completing an exercise program or eating a healthy meal instead of junk food. Express gratitude for animals and people who love you and sunshine or rain.
How do you practice being grateful?