As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the magical power of gratitude and consider some ways to cultivate that state of mind.
As you know, I’m not about just food. I support the mind-body connection too. You can be eating the best diet in the world, but if your mind is full of negative, complaining thoughts, you’re missing a big piece of what you can do to make yourself healthy and happy.
Grateful thoughts are like little messengers that transmit positive energy
throughout your entire body.
The more this positive energy flows the more it infuses your entire system. (1)
By directing your awareness toward gratitude, you experience greater health and balance.
Studies support gratitude’s benefits, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery (2) (3)
In the book The Psychology of Gratitude renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough found people who consciously focused on gratitude experienced the following benefits in comparison to a control group of those who didn’t:
- Felt better about their lives as a whole
- Experienced greater levels of joy and happiness
- Felt optimistic about the future
- Got sick less often
- Exercised more regularly
- Had more energy, enthusiasm, determination, and focus
- Made greater progress toward achieving important personal goals
- Slept better and awoke feeling refreshed
- Felt stronger during trying times
- Enjoyed closer family ties
- Were more likely to help others and offer emotional support
- Experienced fewer symptoms of stress
The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years.
But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to put into practice. As part of our survival, our brain is trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And it can be done with a little practice.
When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we grow new neural pathways in our brain. Giving ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing actually changes our brain.
I don’t want you to think gratitude is a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.
We can strengthen our “gratitude muscle” the same way we strengthen our biceps, with practice and repetition. You do this by putting your attention on the things in your life you are grateful for. I’m talking about things that are already there. Notice them and feel grateful.
Tips To Enhance Your Gratitude Experience
- Have the experience.
- Know it is real
- Allow the soothing sensation of gratitude to sink into your body.
- Feel your body absorbing it like a sponge.
- Stay with it for at least 17 seconds. (It takes 17 seconds for a new vibration to gain momentum.)
There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list? Notice as many things as you can throughout the day.
A Few Powerful Practices to Experience The Magical Power of Gratitude
- Each morning write 3 things you were grateful for from yesterday. If possible, do this by text with a friend. You’ll find yourself looking for things throughout the day to text to your friend. You’ll notice more things to be grateful for.
- Show gratitude in your interactions with others.
- If something you don’t like is happening instead of feeling like something bad is going on, consider seeing it as a beautiful invitation to expand and make your life more wonderful than it’s been before. Open up to the hidden blessings. Gratitude creates space for something new. It creates room for healing and miracles to happen.
- Choose to focus on noticing the good, versus the bad, in everything you see and experience.
- Talk with others about what makes them feel grateful.
- Talk about things that happened in your day that you’re grateful for around the dinner table.
- Stop complaining. You will be amazed by how much better you feel. Watch this video of Will Bowen explaining how no complaining has transformed the lives of millions of people around the world.
- Feel grateful for the people in your life just the way they are. Focus on their light, not their darkness.
- Celebrate yourself for being grateful. Notice how gratitude is making your life more enjoyable.
As you practice gratitude, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.
Notice how much better you feel and the wonderful things that show up in your life experience. That’s the magical power of gratitude, it’s amazing.
To get more inspiration, read Katie Holmes collection of all the wonderful things that being grateful can do for you, Why Gratitude is Important.
I’m grateful you are a part of this beautiful community of heart-centered individuals, creating an energy of joy, health, well-being, and love in the world! Happy Thanksgiving.