While many individuals may not celebrate Thanksgiving in its traditional manner or celebrate it at all, it may not be such a bad idea to think about what this holiday means. While Thanksgiving in Canada originally began to celebrate the harvest season, the concept of giving thanks is one that is shared across many cultures and countries across the world. For many people, the act or habit of expressing gratitude is not something that is restricted to one day, but it is rather a part of everyday life. Several studies even show that a regular practice of gratitude can be quite powerful and beneficial for our health.
Gratitude is said to help boost both physical and mental health. Many studies show that individuals who practice gratitude in some form sleep better, experience less stress, are happier, and even experience improvement in heart health. One study showed that individuals who did weekly exercises of practicing gratitude were more committed to regular exercise and therefore acted in ways that were ultimately healthier for them. Those who focus more on being grateful for what they have rather than complaining about what they lack also experience fewer feelings of jealousy and frustration. In addition, expressing thanks to family members, friends, and even co-workers is said to improve relationships and encourage positive feelings about each other.
So, how do we practice gratitude on a regular basis? While thinking about what you have to be thankful for and expressing it to others is one place to start, here are some other ideas for how you can bring the spirit of Thanksgiving in to your daily life:
Start a gratitude journal. Write down at least 1 thing (or more) that you experienced during the day that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as playing with your dog or enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning. The idea is to not always look for something “massive” or extremely important to be thankful for. As you do this exercise on a regular basis, you may notice that you often find joy in the simplest things that take place every day. Do this exercise daily.
Write a thank you note to someone. The note or letter can be about something specific that they did for you or just a general letter of appreciation.
Think about something that you are happy or thankful for first thing in the morning. This can help set the stage for a successful and joyful day.
Take a picture of something that you saw or experienced that made you happy. Then, whenever you find yourself feeling a little glum, you can browse through those pictures for a quick pick-me-up.
Andrews, L. W. (2017). 5 simple alternatives to keeping a gratitude diary. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com.
Miller, M. C. (2012). In praise of gratitude. Retrieved from www.health.harvard.edu.
Morin, A. (2015). 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com.