Gratitude Changes Attitude
What is you first thing you think of when you hear the word Thanksgiving? I am guessing turkey, food or family tops the list. But if we take this word literally, thanksgiving means “the expression of gratitude.” As we enter November, the month associated with the Thanksgiving holiday, it is an appropriate time to focus on practicing gratitude for all that is going well and right in your life.
This can be especially poignant when you feel things are going poorly. I love the saying “a moment of gratitude makes a difference in your attitude.” How true. While life will never be perfect, it will always be beautiful, and taking some time out to appreciate that can do wonderful things for your mood, mindset, and wellness. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude boosts feelings of satisfaction, strengthens our relationships and drives us to help others. And helping others generally makes us feel better about ourselves, too! For many, gratitude is a part of their day already in the form of prayer or spirituality. Below are some great ideas to practice, regardless of where you stand in your current practice of gratitude.
How to Practice Gratitude
1. Tell loved ones that you love them or appreciate them.
2. Keep a gratitude journal, writing down things that you are thankful for each entry.
3. Keep a gratitude jar. Use an old mason jar and place a small piece of paper in the jar each day of something that was a positive part of your day. This is a fun exercise to revisit at the year end and can boost your mood if you’re in a rut.
4. Smile more.
5. Dole out a compliment or a thank you each day. Pick different people and notice how their mood improves upon receipt of this unexpected gesture.
6. For each complaint, balance it with a positive thought. For example, “ugh, it is getting cold and dark outside”. Counterpart, “I am lucky and thankful to have warm clothes, shelter and electricity.”
7. Say grace before meals. Regardless of your religious beliefs, pause and acknowledge the blessing of having ample nourishment.
I hope you enjoy finding the blessings in the everyday this month and urge you to explore the idea of practicing this for the 11 months beyond!
– KEELEY MEZZANCELLO, RD, LD, CSCS
Photo via Molly Fletcher