As the holidays begin to approach, many people begin to reflect on all they are grateful  for.  Gratitude is focusing on what is good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have.  It is taking the time to notice those things we often take for granted like family, friends, a place to live, food to eat and clean water to drink.   It is reflecting on how fortunate and blessed we have for the simplest things in life.

According to Harvard psychology research studies,“gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.”

The latest research from the Universities of California Berkeley and Davis demonstrates individuals who practice gratefulness:

  • Have lower blood pressure
  • Stronger immune system
  • Are more generous
  • Are more compassionate
  • Experience higher levels of positive emotions
  • Are happier and experience more vitality for life
  • Are more optimistic
  • Overcome negative life situations better
  • Feel less lonely
  • Experience less depression

 

So, how can you develop an attitude of gratitude?  Try this simple exercise called the “3 Good Things Exercise.” 

For one week, record the following on a piece of paper or in a journal.  It is important to actually write down the following versus just doing this in your head.

  1. Write down 3 things that went well for you that day and exactly what happened in as much detail as possible, including what you did or said and, if others were involved, what they did or said.
  2. Include how this event made you feel at the time and how this event made you feel later
  3. Explain what you think caused this event—why it came to pass.

The results from the above exercise have shown an increase in immediate happiness and even for weeks and months afterward.  Many individuals find they enjoy the exercise so much that they actually keep doing it.

Gratitude makes us feel good and expressing that gratitude strengthens relationships because it brings us closer to others.   It could be a simple “thank you” or treating a friend to a cup of coffee or lunch.  Simply showing respect to others with demonstrating kindness brings about positive emotions for you and often the other person.

During this month of Thanksgiving, be grateful in the everyday moments.  Slow down and notice the people and the beauty around you that we often take for granted.  Life is too short to not be grateful.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”  -Melody Beattie