Thanksgiving tends to get overlooked, as we rush from Halloween to the excitement of the winter holidays. But I see it as an important day, not just because we get to spend time with family and enjoy a delicious feast. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for the blessings we have in our lives. It also serves as a perfect reminder of the benefits a regular gratitude practice can bring to your life.
Studies of gratitude have shown that it can improve the mood and relieve symptoms of stress. One study found it lessens symptoms of insomnia, another that it improves immunity. The idea is simple. We start to focus on what we have, rather than what we lack. Gratitude reduces envy and helps us be content with what we have. We become naturally less materialistic. Other studies have found that grateful people are kinder, more confident, and perceived as more likeable. How can you go wrong?
There are many ways to practice gratitude. Like Oprah, you can keep a gratitude journal by taking time each day to write down 5-10 things for which you are thankful. You may take it one step further by considering whether you have been taking these things for granted. If so, try brainstorming about how you can appreciate them more in the future. You can also express gratitude as part of your spiritual practice during prayer or meditation. However you choose to practice, try focusing on the abundance in your life, and see how your attitude changes over time. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! May your blessings be too numerous to count.