Gratitude: Thanksgiving Everyday

Every fall, we gather with our friends and family to celebrate the classic American holiday Thanksgiving. Known as that special time of year when we express what we’re grateful for – freedom, food, shelter, family, friends, love and health – all the while stuffing ourselves full of turkey, cranberry sauce and pecan pie. But the real reason Thanksgiving is special isn't due to all the festive dishes. What makes this day truly meaningful is gratitude.

Gratitude is powerful stuff, and not just because it makes our hearts swell. Gratitude boosts our overall state of health, from mental well-being and spirituality, to increased self-esteem and energy. The bottom line is that gratitude makes us happier, and when we’re happier, we’re more likely to exercise and avoid feelings of depression. 1 In general, people who are thankful for what they have are better at coping with stress, more positive and better at achieving their goals. 2

“Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished. Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude, “ says scientist, Robert Emmons. 1

Practicing gratitude in your daily life is an important health habit, as it promotes positivity and helps attract more of what you’re celebrating in life. Here are five easy ways to start a Gratitude Practice: 1

1. Keep a gratitude journal and writing down what you’re thankful for.

2. Think about three things you’re grateful for when you awake in the morning.

3. Send a thank you note to friends or family, just because...

4. Go to yoga and give thanks to your body. 1

5. Practice mindfulness meditation. 2

"If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world's best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system," said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, head of the division of biologic psychology at Duke University Medical Center. 3

Our future depends on our thoughts, and there are no shortcuts to happiness. We all have struggles, but if we learn to seek pleasure in the little things, we may end up laughing a lot more than we cry. Remember to practice gratitude, and say “thank you” to yourself, your life and others, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. 2

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a mean into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie