The benefits of feeling thankful are innumerable, and science is continually finding new benefits for people’s mental health and well-being.
Being thankful shouldn’t be something you do only one time of year.
While Thanksgiving is a good reminder to reflect on what we are thankful for, we should be grateful for what we have (and don’t have) every day of our lives.
Being thankful increases your resilience when you face challenges. Even when something difficult happens, you’re still consciously aware of all of the fantastic things that you also have and happen all the time.
The knowledge of things you are thankful for helps support you through challenging times.The knowledge of things you are thankful for helps support you through challenging times. Click To Tweet
Practising thankfulness helps fill your heart with joy and optimistic feelings of love for the world around you. Who wouldn’t want more feelings of love in life?
If it’s not a practice you regularly do, it can feel a bit confrontational to say what you are thankful for out loud.
You might feel a bit put on the spot when someone asks you what you are thankful for. I know this has happened to me in the past. I froze up a bit and said something relatively generic like friends and family, which I am genuinely thankful for, but it didn’t feel genuine. It wasn’t an answer that came from the bottom of my heart. It wasn’t an answer I had taken the time to contemplate because I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate them genuinely and what they do for me.
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You also shouldn’t have to wait for that one time of year when you gather around to tell the people you love how much you appreciate them and all they do for you.
How would you feel just on any random day if someone close to you stopped and said, “I love you, and I appreciate all the things you do for me.” That would make you feel wonderful, right?
Don’t wait for someone to appreciate you; pass it forward and tell someone you love how much they mean today.
The interesting thing about practising thankfulness every day is the more you do it, the more you start to appreciate the little things around you.The interesting thing about practising thankfulness every day is the more you do it, the more you start to appreciate the little things around you. Click To Tweet
You appreciate the flowers in bloom outside your window more merely because they’re a beautiful thing to look at in the morning, and why would you not want to look at a beautiful thing every morning?
You also become grateful for the difficult situations and challenges you have faced. This might sound like a bizarre concept at first, but you realize that ultimately these situations teach you a lesson.
When we view difficult times from a place of curiosity and discovery, you learn from it to become stronger.
As the old saying by Sun-Tzu goes:
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
This applies to everything in life even though, at first, the opportunity may be unclear.
Be open to learning during rough times, and at some stage, you will be thankful for the lesson you learned.
You will be thankful that the problematic situation you faced helped you become stronger and helped you teach others to become stronger as well. This doesn’t mean it was fair or justified; you have the opportunity to decide how you see any situation you are faced with.
Today I heard a story about a man who had a terrible skydiving accident, resulting in him being paralyzed for life. When my friend talked to him, he asked him, “Do you regret what happened?” The man replied, “No, I am thankful that I landed where I did. Had I landed two feet further along the beach, I would have hit a metal pole that was sticking out of the sand.” There are two sides to every coin.
For myself, being thankful every day is one of the tools I jump back into every time I’m struggling because I know that it helps enormously, and I know that I should never have stopped in the first place.
The effects of this daily practice are extraordinary. It can quickly switch you from being very closed-minded to genuinely really feeling love everywhere and appreciating beauty in every form. You realize that there is so much to be thankful for; friends, family, your job, your body, the water you drink, your bed at night, the roof over your head, the clothes you wear.
You also become genuinely thankful for the things you don’t have. Your lack of a job allows you to start something new. The addictions you went through taught you valuable lessons about yourself. The trauma you experienced forced you to incorporate more self-care into your daily life. You didn’t deserve any of that, but it happened, so what will you do about it next to care for yourself and lift yourself back up?
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Now, I have a challenge for you should you choose to accept it.
The challenge is to write down three things you are thankful for every day.
Start with a week but ultimately go for at least 30 days. Do this in the morning when you first wake up or at night before you go to sleep. These things can be anything you want. Tiny little things like you are grateful for the pen that enables you to write what you are thankful for to big things like graduating University, travelling the world, or having the people in your life that you love.
In one month, see how you feel. Noticed what you said you were thankful for.
Is there anything that you’re missing? Is there anything that you repeat frequently? Notice how you feel. Does this practice make you feel uncomfortable? Does it calm you? Do you feel joyful? How does it make you feel about your future? How do you feel about your past? How does being thankful for three things every day affect you?
Don’t just do this practice only for yourself; practice for everyone around you.
Positive emotions are contagious. It is not selfish to take a moment to practice self-care.
First and foremost, looking after yourself gives you more energy and power to look after those that you are thankful for having in your life.
Thankfulness is not just wishy-washy pseudo-science. It helps build joy, and being happy has been found scientifically to be contagious. Positive emotions spread up to 3 degrees of separation from yourself. That means that you have the potential to make your coworker’s family, your friend’s family, even the people you meet in the shops feel happier just by being happier yourself.
By taking the time to share a little more joy in the world, you make this world a more beautiful place.
So don’t wait to be thankful only one time a year; start being thankful today and every day.
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