I love Thanksgiving, don’t you? I get that warm, loving feeling and am filled with the excitement and joy of being surrounded by family and friends. You know the feeling I’m talking about; it absolutely permeates the room when you sit down to share that special meal with your loved ones. Do you know what is truly behind that feeling? Gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful force that we can put to work in our lives, not just on Thanksgiving but every day of the year. Being grateful can impact our lives in positive ways beyond imagination. Let’s talk about how.
Gratitude Improves Wellness
Did you know that the power of gratitude is well studied? There are physical, mental and social benefits to expressing your gratitude. Living your life in a state of gratitude can:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Improve your mood
- Make you more forgiving
- Decrease feelings of isolation
- Reduce the impact of pain
- Boost your immune system
- Improve the quality of your sleep
- Improve your outlook on life
How to Live a Life of Gratitude
If you’re in a tough spot in your life, you may be saying, “What do I really have to be thankful for?” I assure you, there are numerous things. The more you search for things to be grateful for, the easier it will be to see the good all around you. You will attract more and more positivity if you’re searching for it and expecting it in everything you do.
Here are a few ways to start living a life of gratitude:
- Keep a journal. A gratitude journal is a powerful tool you can use to enhance your life and wellness. A gratitude journal is a place for you to create daily lists of the things you are most grateful for. You can decide on a set number or let your feelings guide you each day. Some people start their day with their journal entry, and others prefer to do it at the end and reflect upon what they’ve experienced that day. There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal. Just sit down daily at a time that’s right for you and make a list of things you’re thankful for.
- Start a thank you note campaign. Be intentional about expressing your gratitude to others. You can do this verbally as often as you can, but there is something about a handwritten note of thanks. It shows the recipient that you took the time to sit down and really think about them. Your notes of thanks could be to a spouse you see daily, a college professor you haven’t spoken to in years or the barista at Starbucks who helps you get going each morning with a dose of caffeine and a friendly word. Write to whomever you are inspired to, but put it on your calendar and do it weekly.
- Spread kindness. When you feel the warmth of happiness and gratitude, share it. Buy a cup of coffee for the man in line behind you at WaWa. Drop off a box of warm donations at the homeless shelter. Volunteer your time to walk dogs at the shelter. Find ways to show warmth and kindness to others, and it will be returned to you tenfold.
At my home, Thanksgiving is a real holiday between Halloween and Christmas. This is punctuated every year by my eldest child: no Christmas before Thanksgiving is over! My daughter loves Thanksgiving, and one day I asked her why. In her wisdom, she told me, “It is a time to be grateful. There is no expectation of what will be received or giving the perfect gift. It is just family and friends sharing.” She really “gets it.”
For more information on leading a life filled with gratitude and wellness, contact me. I wish you warmth, love and kindness this Thanksgiving season and always.
A nurse for more than 25 years, Karen David is a Certified Wellness Coach and Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist. She brings her passion for well living and calm presence to empower others in health and wellness. Karen is CEO of Live Life Well, LLC.
This article is for informational purposes only. Practices, services or products described are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please speak with a doctor before beginning any new health regimen.