It’s Thanksgiving week in the US and, while the origins of the holiday might be a little culturally contentious, everybody can benefit from the annual reminder to turn our thoughts towards appreciation and gratitude.
But, giving thanks shouldn’t just be a once a year thing. Gratitude is a powerful mindset and one that we should try and cultivate in our day to days lives. Making thanksgiving a more regular part of your daily experience can have enormous benefits for you directly and for your relationships with those around you.
The power of gratitude.
We are all guilty of taking things for granted. The whole ‘don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ thing may seem like a cliche, but it is a pretty accurate statement on the human condition. When things are great, we don’t really give them much thought. We often fail to appreciate the full value of what we really have – like the people we love, our health, our jobs, and our homes – until we don’t have them anymore.
Making a decision to shift your perspective towards appreciation every day can have powerful outcomes for all aspects of well-being. People who are grateful tend to be much more engaged in the world around them, which leads to greater self-acceptance, personal growth and stronger feelings of purpose and meaning. Studies have linked gratitude with increased motivation and energy, better health, reduced stress, and improved sleep.
Bring gratitude into your everyday.
This Thanksgiving, why not make the decision to bring more gratitude into your everyday? It might take a little conscious practice at first, but before long you won’t even notice you’re doing it – and the positive outcomes will make the initial effort more than worthwhile.
Here are three simple appreciation practices that can help you quickly adopt a more grateful everyday experience:
Appreciation journaling: This is a powerful technique that we love doing before bed – it sets you up for a relaxed, calm nights sleep and helps ensure a more positive start to your day. Keep a journal beside your bed and before turning out the light, write a list of five things every day that you are grateful for. It could be as simple as “my lunch was delicious today”. Framing your attention onto what was great about each and every day is an effective way to make sure you’re not taking those little things for granted.
Say thank-you: This sounds simple, but many of us are guilty of not really thanking people throughout the day. And often when we do say it, it’s a throw-away sentiment without genuine meaning. Foster more awareness for those around you by registering when someone has done something for you, and make sure your ‘thank you’ is sincere and meaningful (make eye contact!). Whether it’s the girl who holds the elevator door for you or your coffee guy, expressing thanks will make them feel great and also help keep your perspective focused on appreciation.
Nobody likes a whiner: Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying you should deny reality. There are valid times when it is appropriate and necessary to be aware of, and vocalize, something that we’re not happy with. But for the most part, complaining is pointless, self-indulgent, and only encourages a negative perspective. Make a decision to reduce the amount of time you spend thinking and talking about things you don’t like. You’ll be surprised at how quickly these things become insignificant, and how much more pleasant your day is!