Some words and phrases get passed around so often, their deepest meanings start to vanish in the duplication. That’s why at Thanksgiving time, it’s important to really think about the word: thanksgiving.
Like, how grateful are you, really, when you thank your barista for that exquisitely brewed espresso? Or when you toss a quick “appreciate it” to the guy in the suit holding the door?
The thing about this sort of autopilot gratitude is not that it’s insincere. It usually is. But studies show that if you’re not consciously contemplating the gratitude you express every day . . . you’re actually leaving a sackful of astonishing benefits on the table.
Many of which, as you’re about to see, can have a holy-crap-no-way-that’s-possible impact on your health and happiness.
The warm, fuzzy feeling that keeps on giving.
According to psychology blogger Amit Amin, there are 26 scientific studies (and counting) that reveal a wide spectrum of benefits for practitioners of conscious gratitude. Here are a few:
* A lower risk of heart attack
* Deeper sleep
* Stronger social skills
* A more spiritual outlook on life
* Higher optimism
* A greater tendency to help others
* Greater discipline to exercise regularly (1.5 more hours per week, to be specific)
* And – this one’s my favorite – a 25% higher measure of happiness (on average) compared to non-practitioners
Whoa, sounds excellent! But how do I get started with this gratitude thing?
Here are some of my favorite ways to express thanksgiving.
1. Keep a gratitude journal.
Write down three to five things you’re grateful for, once in the morning, and once before bedtime. This can be anything from your job to your favorite toothpaste. Doing this will bathe the beginning and end of every day in a beautiful glow of thankfulness, as you find yourself subconsciously recalling all the things you wrote down at various intervals. And even in your dreams.
3. Show gratitude to your loved ones.
Express your love and appreciation often and with thoughtfulness . . . in your own special way.
3. Practice mindful eating.
Honor the food and all the those involved with the growing, delivery, and preparation of the food. And as you eat, engage all six senses. Eat slowly and calmly . . . enjoy all the flavors. Avoid overeating to respect your body and its digestive process.
4. Show people gratitude who serve you and work with you.
Be sincere when expressing gratitude to the people in the world who help you.
5. Show gratitude for yourself.
Do what Jessica does!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Let’s keep that love and gratitude flowing . . .
– Amish Shah