Feeling Down? Don’t Despair, Give Thanks!

HoldingHazel2The month of November is defined for many by Thanksgiving. A time to get together with family and friends, eat great food, reconnect with community and give thanks. The thing with Thanksgiving though, is that it’s just one day! For me, November is an opportunity to take the whole month, revisit the Gratitude Challenge, and take the time to write down 3-5 things that I am grateful for everyday.

Research has shown that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. There are so many ways to express gratitude and everyone can do it on their own terms. Just like anything else, it only takes a bit of practice to make giving thanks a habit and this is one habit that you’re not going to want to break any time soon.

Even Harvard University’s medical school recognizes the amazing research being done on gratitude and encourages individuals to find their own way of practicing it. Here are just a few ways they suggest to cultivate gratitude in your day-to-day life:

Write a thank-you note. Sometimes we fail to tell others how much they mean to us and how thankful we are for their influence in our life, especially if they’re far away. And, who doesn’t like to receive mail these days? Don’t forget to write one to yourself, too.

Thank someone mentally. Even thinking about and mentally thanking those that have helped you in some way has wonderful benefits.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down a few things each day or week that you are thankful for. Keeping your “thanks” in one place means you can always go back and read your previous entries for a little pick-me-up on those hard days.

Count your blessings. Not only writing down your blessings but also the feelings associated with them helps to cultivate health and happiness.

Meditate. Focus on a word or phrase or something that you’re grateful for, to practice being in and appreciating the present moment without judgement.

Beginning and ending your day with a moment of thanks makes a world of difference in how you perceive what happened that day and how you prepare for what’s to come in the next. Who doesn’t want a healthier, happier life filled with strong relationships and a sense that you always have enough? I challenge you to take the Gratitude Challenge with me this month and let us know you how you feel come December!