I believe we need about 364 more celebrations of Thanksgiving in a year, and not because we need more reasons to overeat and watch football. Giving thanks is good for us. Need some proven reasons? Here they are.
- It makes you happier. Numerous studies have shown that expressing gratitude, journaling about what we’re grateful for, and paying attention to the good things in our lives makes us feel more happy.
- It improves your relationships. Being aware of what we’re thankful for makes us more helpful and understanding. People who express gratitude for their partner feel more positively about that person. They also tend to feel more comfortable about expressing relationship concerns (so they can get worked out!).
- It increases your self-esteem. A practice of feeling appreciative for our live circumstances tends to make us feel better about ourselves.
- It reduces depression and anxiety. Simply taking the time to write about what they were grateful for resulted in lower rates of depression and anxiety in study participants – even 12 weeks later.
- It enhances brain function. Gratitude exercises have been shown to cause a lasting activation of a part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex, associated with higher thought and increased sensitivity.
- It makes you appear more trustworthy to others. When someone regularly expresses gratitude, others interpret this to indicate they are trustworthy and this strengthens social connections.
- It makes you more resilient. When we focus on what we’re thankful for, even during times of hardship, it reinforces feelings of self-trust and helps us to remember the blessings that can’t be lost or taken away.
- It expands the spiritual dimension of your life. Gratitude practices tend to strengthen our spiritual connection, probably because they prompt us to listen, look, and feel more deeply. They may attune us to a benevolent higher power that’s looking out for us, give us perspective of the path we’re on, and help us to see the goodness in what seems unfortunate on the surface.
- It makes you more generous. When we routinely express gratitude, we’re less self-centered and more giving.
- It lowers blood pressure, enhances your sleep, increases your likelihood of exercising, and improves overall health. Don’t put all your eggs in this basket, but regular expressions of gratitude support modest physical health gains.
- It diminishes the weight of your burdens. Focusing on what we appreciate has the simultaneous effect of lessening the intensity of whatever we’re struggling with.
Besides whatever special gains a gratitude practice may have, I feel there’s one main reason to do it, and that’s because life is a gift and each of us has the power to choose how we relate to it. Expressing gratitude is an act of cutting through the illusions that tell us otherwise. It’s about fiercely claiming this truth. It’s about claiming your light and shining it brightly.
Among many other things, I am grateful for all of you who have supported us. I’m grateful to have this forum to explore topics of depth in health, nature, and spirituality. And I’m grateful to be able to do my work in this way and have a positive impact on others’ lives.