Gratitude: it’s giving thanks

Gratitude: it’s giving thanks

Graphic by Elise Bechtel

By Isabelle Oroc

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on all the blessings in your life. This holiday is an opportunity to give thanks and spend time with your loved ones. It is also a great time to start building habits on practicing gratitude. The power of gratitude can shift perspectives and create more positivity within yourself, others and the world.

What is gratitude? What does it mean to practice gratitude?

The definition of gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude is an emotion that anyone can feel and something anyone can find within any situation. People practice gratitude when they take time to reflect and acknowledge the blessings in their lives, whether it is themself, relationships, objects, opportunities, etc. Practicing gratitude is more than just a simple thank you.

Why is practicing gratitude important? What are its benefits?

Practicing gratitude can improve your self-worth, relationships and health. By showing appreciation for yourself, you can recognize your true value and show kindness to yourself. The way you see and appreciate yourself improves every aspect of your life. When you show your appreciation for a loved one, the relationship can be strengthened. Your emotional connections are nourished and help everyone feel more recognized and understood. According to the article “Why Gratitude is good,” from Greater Good Magazine, practicing gratitude can improve your health. It is a method used in therapy and is evident in reducing anxiety and depression. Practicing gratitude can help lower blood pressure and encourage people to exercise and to care for their bodies. Overall, it improves your mental and physical health.                      

How can you practice gratitude?

  • Make gratitude lists
    • Set aside time each day to reflect and appreciate anything, the tangible or intangible. In the morning, take your to-do list and write “I am thankful I get to do” before each bullet point. At night, you can write a list of things that you are grateful for that happened earlier in the day.
  • Create a gratitude journal
    • Research gratitude prompts. These prompts can help you reflect and show appreciation on certain aspects of your life. This article from happier human can get you started, with 101 prompt ideas.
  • Meditation
    • Search up guided meditations or affirmations on gratitude on YouTube. Here is a 13-minute guided meditation by singer-songwriter Raveena.
  • Initiate gratitude conversations
    • Converse with your family and friends about gratitude before eating a meal. Bringing light and intentional gratitude can sweeten others’ perspectives and situations.
  • Do good deeds and show thanks.
    • People often take for granted simple things like food and shelter. Show appreciation and do good deeds such as donating food or volunteering at a homeless shelter! There are many opportunities and different ways you can do good for others and the world.

Take a moment today to practice gratitude.  Make it your mission to shift to a more positive perspective and pay it forward to the world. Gratitude helps aid the pursuit of happiness. It feels great to feel happy, and it feels great to recognize and have gratitude for the things and the people who make you happy.

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