Thanksgiving is the time of year to gather together and hold gratitude for all that is good in life. It’s a great reminder to refresh our perspective. As I write this, I’m the first to admit that I often default to worry and other counterproductive emotions. Life can be tough and it’s easy to focus on what is going wrong instead of what is going right.
Logically, I know this is a typical human response because our brains are hardwired through evolution to focus on the negative. However, knowing that information doesn’t necessarily detour the negative thought cycle in our heads. I continually remind myself of the importance of incorporating gratitude into my consciousness.
Gratitude is not just a good practice in grace, it’s also important for emotional and physical health, connecting us to happiness and hope. Gratitude helps us to set our ego aside and recognize the goodness around us. As a result, being grateful helps connect us to friends, family, nature, and the world around us.
I find one of the easiest ways to shift my perspective is by creating a gratitude list in a journal. It’s easy to do and it’s amazing how quickly the list grows. I often list the amazing people in my life both past and present. I also give thanks to the community that has provided stability for my children. I pay homage to beautiful sunsets, the Puget Sound, Lake Union and the view of the Olympics. I also give thanks for the students that continue to inspire me and show me how to be a better teacher and person.
If you are science minded and need even more reason to practice gratitude, there is plenty of research proving the benefits. In the field of positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently linked to greater happiness. Expressing gratitude helps people feel positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, and the practice of gratitude helps to build healthier neural structures of the brain.
Psychologists Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami (who have done much of the research on gratitude) asked a group of study participants to write about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about being grateful were measurable more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, these subjects had reported fewer illnesses and visits to the physician. (Credit: health.harvard.edu)
Why not begin your gratitude practice this week? It has to be one of the least expensive ways to improve your state of mind. Just grab a pen and notebook and you are on the path of your new gratitude journey!
As a certified yoga instructor and reiki therapist based in Seattle, I like to blend a variety of techniques into my practice to ensure that your body feels healthy, strong and balanced. I teach group in-person classes, live virtual group classes and also offer custom private or group sessions on a by request basis. Click Here for Details