This is the time of year when we give thanks and reflect on all that we are grateful for. As we continue to adjust to the new normal and the continued challenges we face, it can be difficult to hold on to gratitude. However, when we pause and reflect, there are likely many things we are thankful for.
These don’t have to be things that are tangible or that we can measure. Even if we don’t have all of life’s comforts, we can be thankful for family, loved ones and/or friends who have supported us. We can be thankful for the strength we have shown by supporting others. We can give thanks for our health or the health of loved ones. We can be thankful for our children who we have gotten to know better. We can marvel at how they still laugh, play and learn even though school isn’t exactly how they remember. We can let them inspire us! We can be thankful for all the school staff who tirelessly support our children despite what they themselves have gone through.
We can be thankful for all the ways we have come to know ourselves better. What have you learned about yourself over the past 20 months? How have you grown? What will you carry with you forward as we move to new phases of our lives? As Thanksgiving approaches, here is a reminder of how giving thanks can benefit us.
Here are the many ways practicing gratitude can help us:
It makes us healthier: Research shows that people who seek to be grateful for what they have have lower stress, lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems, and they enjoy more sound sleep according to happiness researcher Kristen Layhous, PhD.
It makes us happier: Finding and focusing on the positives in our lives helps us to wire our brains toward happiness. It increases positive emotions and makes experiences more enjoyable.
It helps us to make more positive, healthful choices: When we are more appreciative of our lives, we are more inclined to take better care of ourselves. For example, research shows that appreciative people tend to exercise more.
It improves our relationships: Positivity and gratitude spreads outward. Others are positively influenced by those who have an appreciative attitude. When we are grateful for those in our lives- our partners, children, loved ones and friends, and we express this to them, it helps to strengthen our relationships. When we feel appreciated by those we love, we are more likely to do and say the things that make relationships last and grow.
In the next few weeks, inspire gratitude in yourself and others by sending cards (you can make them with your kids) to all those you feel grateful for- tell them why! Try keeping a simple gratitude journal- you can help your children to keep one as well. Everyday, try to write down something you are grateful for. It can be a simple gesture from a friend, your child’s smile, the colors of the trees in Fall. What sparks gratitude in you? Let’s celebrate it!