Thanksgiving Day is a perfect opportunity to show gratitude – gratitude practice when practiced regularly can add years to your life
On Thanksgiving Day, as families all around Canada traditionally gather around the kitchen table to give thanks andcelebrate the harvest and other blessings of the past year, research show that this gratitude practice when practiced regularly can add years to your life.
Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the UC Davis in California and the founder a research lab that studies the effects of grateful living has found that grateful living can have many positive effects on health and well-being. His research shows that a “grateful mind reaps massive advantages in life,” and that “health and wholeness, wellness and fullness result from the systematic practice of a grateful living”.
So what exactly is gratitude? Gratitude is a noun and can be defined as the quality of being thankful, a readiness to show appreciation and to return kindness. Simply put, gratitude is the experience of counting one’s blessings. Most notably, gratitude is a practice which ought to be used regularly to affirm the goodness in one’s life and recognize the many sources of these blessings.
One research study that Emmons led in 2003 found that participants who took time to reflect on things for which they were grateful reported fewer symptoms of physical illness and spent more time exercising. Another research study concluded that gratitude Is not only a benefit to physical health, but it is also good for strengthening relationships with our families, friends, and partners.
And while Thanksgiving Day is a perfect opportunity to show gratitude, gratitude is often left on the Thanksgiving table once the holiday is over, but know that this is solely a choice made by you.And since gratitude requires action, our suggestion to you and your families is to take action and establish a daily gratitude practice to continue receiving these wonderful health benefits of gratitude well beyond this holiday season.
How? Emmons found that keeping a daily gratitude journal to be one of the most effective means of cultivating a gratitude practice in one’s life and led to a greater sense of well-being and a better ability to handle change in one’s life.
To begin, adopt a daily practice of writing down ONE thing you are grateful for every morning. And note that thereis a difference between thinking about what you are grateful and writing it down, so be sure to get yourself a journal and write it down! Own that gratitude, feel the emotion behind it. The thinking usually comes rapidly, but the feeling takes a bit longer. So don’t rush through the process. Write down your one daily gratitude, and take a few moments to allow yourself the time and the opportunity to feel the emotion of this gratitude.Remember, it matters less what you write, and more what you experience and feel.
To help keep yourself accountable, share your daily gratitude with your family and encourage them to join in on this daily gratitude practice with you to start each day. Make space in your morning routine to share with each other what you are grateful for at the breakfast table or on the car ride to school for example. Start with one gratitude per day and work yourselves up to more as your practice improves.
In conclusion, the benefits of gratitude in your life can extend so far beyond the second Monday of October. The time to step up is now, and it starts with YOU. Be the change in your family and reap the rewards of a daily gratitude practice. Invest in yourself daily – ONE GRATITUDE PER DAY, EVERY MORNING.
Regional Coordinator for Prairies & Territories, BOKS Canada