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Gratitude is Good For Your Health

Thanksgiving is upon us and you know what that means: food, football, family, and Black Friday sales. But in the midst of this four-day food-fest, let’s not forget about the most important ingredient of all: gratitude.

What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is more than a simple act of etiquette—it’s an emotion, an attitude, and a way of life. Gratitude takes thank you to the next level. It is a deep sense of appreciation. To feel grateful is to feel warm, joyful, and blessed. We’ve all experienced moments where we’ve been overwhelmed by gratitude, perhaps even moved to tears. It is a powerful feeling and creates a rush of endorphins that lift us up.

Gratitude and Health
Gratitude isn’t just a nice idea—it’s actually a critical component of our health and wellbeing.

Feeling grateful or counting our blessings is a way of shifting into a positive mindset and seeing our glass as half full rather than half empty. In fact, some research indicates that people who are grateful are healthier, happier, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives. They tend to have more positive coping strategies, better sleep, and healthier relationships.

Get Grateful
Some people are more naturally inclined to feelings of gratitude, but if gratitude doesn’t come naturally to you, you can teach yourself to be grateful. It’s a fact—gratitude is a feeling you can cultivate. Fake it until you make it and gratitude will become a healthy habit.

Cultivate more gratitude this Thanksgiving—and watch it seep into the rest of the holiday season and beyond. Here’s how:

  • Keep a gratitude journal: Each night before bed, write down five things for which you are grateful. This may be challenging at first, but stick with it and within a few weeks, you’ll see how the gratitude naturally flows. Start small: your morning coffee, the roof over your head, the sunny day.
  • Meditate: Spend time in quiet contemplation connecting to your breath and the stillness. When give yourself the gift of time and space, gratitude will naturally rise to the surface.
  • Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins and helps put us in a positive state of mind.
  • Spend time in nature. Spending time in the natural world allows us to develop an appreciation for life at its most basic level.
  • Make it a game: When you’re standing in line at the post office and you catch yourself feeling irritated and stressed, force yourself to take a deep breath, look around, and mentally list several things that make you feel grateful. You’ll feel an instant shift in your mood.
  • Gratitude Jar: Start a new Thanksgiving tradition by placing a gratitude jar and blank slips of paper in a central location. Allow family members and guests to jot down things for which they are grateful and drop them in the jar. At the Thanksgiving meal, empty the jar and read the gratitude statements.