Here we are just a few days away from Thanksgiving! This is usually a time for travel, getting together with family and friends, football, food, and for some, a long weekend. Let’s not forget that the meaning of the holiday is Thanks Giving. Take the time to be grateful for the people in your life, a roof over your head, food on the table, your ability to breathe in and out, and for the opportunity to experience personal growth everyday.
Each and everyday is a combination of giving and receiving on a lot of different levels. What we do with our actions and words involves them both. You give hard work – you receive rewards (money, acknowledgement, progress, etc.). You cook a meal – you receive nourishment and contribute to the nourishment of others. So what happens when you give thanks?
Psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough point out that gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research. They point out the benefits of expressing gratitude as ranging from better physical health to improved mental alertness. People who express gratitude also are more likely to offer emotional support to others.
Expressing gratitude in your daily life might even have a protective effect on staving off certain forms of psychological disorders. In a review article published this past March, researchers found that habitually focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life is related to a generally higher level of psychological well-being and a lower risk of certain forms of psychopathology.
Further, the word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
So this next week while passing a dish, sharing a meal, watching a ball game, or even if you have to work, give some thanks and gratitude to someone (or think grateful thoughts to yourself) and see if you can receive some of the benefits we all need from practicing a grateful/thankful life and in turn connecting to something larger than yourself.
Happy Thanks Giving!
Take Care and Be Well,