The Power of Gratitude
Each year, families and friends gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving and to give thanks for all the good in their lives. This year, the celebrations will be radically different due to the lingering effects of COVID-19. Finding the positive in difficult times can prove daunting. However, despite the numerous challenges we’ve faced in 2020, it’s more important than ever to express our gratitude.
Research shows that gratitude helps us cope and improves our wellbeing. It changes our brain structure by strengthening the neural pathways that make us feel happier and more positive. It improves our quality of life and our sleep. Gratitude is powerful!
When things are going well, it’s easy to feel gratitude. Thankfulness rolls off of us naturally when we receive a compliment or gift, welcome a new family member, win a sporting event, land a new client, close the deal on a new home, or any number of happy things. Where it gets tricky is when those things are lacking in our day-to-day experiences.
In difficult times, such as this year, we need to be more deliberate and focused in finding positive moments to celebrate. We also need to show ourselves more compassion instead of beating ourselves up when things don’t go to plan and thankfulness is hard to come by.
So how do you find gratitude when you don’t feel grateful?
Little things can make a big difference. Find something in your day that went well, regardless of how inconsequential it may seem, and focus on it. Maybe the barista at Starbucks finally spelled your name right on your pumpkin spice latte. Or maybe, your favorite shirt was freshly washed and waiting in your closet when you were getting ready for the day. It doesn’t matter how insignificant it feels. Pausing on a positive moment trains your brain to feel good and find other similar moments until they appear at random and increase the endorphins that make us happy.
By nature, humans are social creatures. Historically, our survival depended on our connections to others. So, it stands to reason that by helping others, we help ourselves. Not only does it feel good to assist others, but it opens us up to feeling more positive about ourselves and about life in general, which helps us find new things to be thankful for. When you help someone who is less fortunate than yourself, it reminds you of what matters and all you have accomplished in your life.
Revive Childlike Traits
Children have an innate sense of wonder, adventure, and appreciation for the world around them. By recapturing that sense of awe, we can boost our adult sense of appreciation and gratitude for the things around us and expand our ability to find our joy in spite of obstacles. This feel-good view will spill over into our everyday and allow us to welcome things we often take for granted. Reclaim the magic of sunrises and sunsets, the heady scent of roses covered in dew, the gentle touch of a warm summer breeze.
The more intentional we are in finding gratitude, the easier it will flow from us and the more benefits we will reap, including a more positive outlook, a stronger ability to adapt, better relationships, and increased health.
What makes you thankful?