Do we all have so many things to be grateful for every day of the year? Yes! Do we spend enough time recognizing this? Probably not! But the holidays naturally bring a focus on thankfulness, and I want to share three truths about gratitude, and some different ways to express gratitude this Thanksgiving.
Gratitude rewires your brain. One of the most basic principles of neuroscience is that “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Meaning the more you think a thought, the more the physical connections enabling that thought build up in the brain, and the easier it is to have that thought again. Practicing gratitude makes gratitude easier in the future.
Practicing gratitude has some of the broadest, most significant and best-documented benefits of any mental health intervention. Gratitude makes you feel happier, reduces stress, improves sleep, and strengthens relationships. Brains that are more positive simply work better.
There are bad ways to practice gratitude. Don’t just give thanks, SAY thanks. Thanking people in your life that you are grateful for has a bigger impact – both on your mindset and on the person – than silently counting your blessings. And be sincere. If you express gratitude as a way to cover for guilt, people will see through that.
With all of life’s ups and downs it can be difficult to live gratefully every day, but now is the perfect time to work on being grateful. In many homes, going around the Thanksgiving table and asking everyone what they are grateful for is a typical pre-meal activity. But there are some new traditions emerging which you might consider.
Gratitude Jar: Rather than have everyone announce their reasons for gratitude, try having everyone write their thoughts on small pieces of paper and place them in a gratitude jar to read after dinner. Have each person pick one note from the jar to read aloud and then guess who wrote it.
Annual Gratitude Journal: Buy a blank journal and have people write down the blessings of the past year and their hopes for the coming year. Keep it in a safe place (and a place you can remember!). Bring the journal out next year – have people’s blessings changed? Did their hopes for this year come true?
Gratitude Cards: Buy blank note cards and leave a note card and envelope at each place setting at your Thanksgiving table. Ask guests to take the card home and write a note of gratitude to someone they are grateful for.
During the upcoming long holiday weekend take time to notice what’s around you and practice gratitude for the little things. And while you have your loved ones with you, tell them that you are grateful for them – say the words out loud! That’s my challenge to you.
The Joseph Group office will be closed next Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday, so this is the last WealthNotes of November. Wishing everyone a peaceful and joy-filled Thanksgiving.
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications