#Blessed. #Grateful. These popular hashtags run across social media and we may even use these phrases ourselves in our day-to-day lives. But did you know that when you practice an attitude of gratitude you’re giving yourself a boost of well being too?
Expressing gratitude with words or actions can feel great both for the person giving and receiving thanks. As we all prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s an opportune time to explore the meaning of gratitude, creative ways to give thanks, and share the benefits of this rich emotion.
“Gratitude is a multi-layered, complex concept with multiple definitions. It can be regarded at many levels of analysis ranging from momentary affect to long-term dispositions as a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation, and as the recognition and appreciation of an altruistic gift (Emmons, 2004).” – Dr. Robert A. Emmons.
Gratitude plays an essential role in fostering our mental health, feelings of social connection, and overall well-being as individuals within a greater society.
There are several ways to say “thank you” but it’s suggested we begin with our own daily gratitude practice. This doesn’t need to be complicated or take long. Here are some of our favorite ways to create a daily gratitude practice:
It’s simple. Five minutes a day can help you shift the focus to what you have instead of to what you don’t.
Send a thank you note, mail, or text to someone who helped you. Small acts of kindness go a long way.
Make a habit of saying thank you at the end of each meal. Pausing to be grateful for all of the labor and love that went into the food we eat can lead to more appreciation throughout the day.
Make a habit of saying thank you both at the start and end of your day. Book ending the day with gratitude is a way to get off to a positive start and close the day, no matter how tough, with a feeling of optimism.
A Gratitude Exchange allows you to double the benefit and increase connection to someone you care for by practicing this simple exercise where you each acknowledge and thank each other.
Maybe you’re someone who says thank you all the time but struggles to hear it? Are you more of a giver than receiver? Do you deflect when someone offers words of appreciation? If taking a compliment doesn’t come easily then accepting a word or act of gratitude might not feel so easy either.
Here are some ways you can practice receiving thanks in order to experience its range of benefits:
When someone thanks you and extends their appreciation, don’t minimize or dismiss their appreciation by saying, “it was no big deal,” or by saying nothing at all!
Place your hand on your heart when someone thanks you. This can help you stay in your body and receive the message.
Allow others to thank you. Stay present and remind yourself that they will benefit too.
Gratitude can help us see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Practicing gratitude can help us refrain from negativity, judgment and catastrophizing. It can help boost our confidence and self-esteem and cultivate more satisfaction even when we’ve had a bad day. But did you know that there are emotional, social and professional benefits to showing gratitude regularly? There are even significant physical and mental health benefits too.
Besides benefiting the giver and the recipient, acts of gratitude can even benefit the observer too. When someone witnesses an act of gratitude, studies show that person feels more connection towards both of them.
Whether you say it, show it, or share it in your own unique way, owning your attitude of gratitude can help you enjoy the many benefits of this fulfilling emotion. Starting right now. What are you grateful for?