The Gift of Gratitude
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and whether your favorite part of the day is spending time with family, eating lots of food, watching football, or simply just having time off work, it is an exciting time for many of us! Though beyond the hustle and bustle of preparing for the day, Thanksgiving tends to be the perfect opportunity to stop and appreciate what we have.
I was reminded of this at the start of the month when I received a gratitude quiz in my inbox from the Greater Good Science Center. I took the quiz, thinking it would be a fun little exercise. It certainly was, but it also offered so much more. It made me reflect on my thought process in certain situations. For example, when I see a car accident or how often I think about my health. This prompted me to adopt a much more intentional mindset and has encouraged me to practice more gratitude in my day-to-day life.
To practice more gratitude, it is important to understand exactly what it is. Gratitude is the affirmation of goodness. As Robert Emmons, the author of Why Gratitude is Good, explains, when we practice gratitude, we affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received (Emmons, 2010). Adopting a more grateful lifestyle does not mean that you abstain from stress, burdens, or obstacles, but that you acknowledge at least a sliver of good.
Further, gratitude extends beyond positivity. Positivity is great (check out our post on The Power of Positivity); however, positive emotions naturally wear off quickly. Gratitude, on the other hand, acknowledges the quality of one’s value. Someone or something’s value does not just simply expire. Gratitude is generated from within, offering a lasting sense of appreciation.
I have also come to learn just how beneficial gratitude can be! Incorporating more gratitude into your life can help you recharge andrejuvenate. It can also help you avoid taking certain things for granted and offer a sense of peace. Gratitude also suggests an array of physical, psychological, and social benefits. Those who frequently practice gratitude tend to have stronger immune systems, more energy, and lower blood pressure. They also feel less lonely and isolated while exhibiting more positive emotions, joy, and pleasure (Emmons, 2010)
Gratitude is something each of us can control, so challenge yourself to welcome more of it into your life. Spend some time reflecting on what you are grateful for. This could be in the form of a journal, a message, or personal reflection. Explore different options and find whatever works best for you. And while gratitude is not just something to practice around the holidays, I’d encourage you to use it as an opportunity to express your gratitude and invite others to do the same!
Begin reflecting on the areas of your life in which you can incorporate more gratitude. The Wellness Wheel, which was originally developed by Bill Hetter in 1976, proposes seven dimensions of wellness. To gain a more holistic perspective, spend some time thinking about factors you are grateful for in each dimension. Remember that not all areas of our lives have to be perfect to practice gratitude. Think of the people, places, circumstances, and experiences that have enhanced your life in some way or another. Write these out to help you retain a grateful mindset throughout the year!
*Meet the Author*
Caroline has been with Leadership Inspirations for two years. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Leadership Development and holds B.A.’s in Psychology and Integrated Educational Studies.
Favorite Quote: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make” – Jane Goodall
Fun Facts: 1) I’m from Seattle 2) I LOVE Golden Retrievers 3) I have celebrated Holi in India