Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and we all we turn our thoughts to thankfulness and gratitude. Though gratitude and thankfulness can be synonymous, positive psychologists contend that gratitude expresses a deeper appreciation than thankfulness and produces longer lasting positive results.
Harvard Medical School defines gratitude this way – “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”
With gratitude we not only acknowledge the goodness in our lives but also recognize that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self.
Taking time everyday to express gratitude can benefit us all in many ways. Many studies have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed. It has also been shown to improve physical health. Practicing gratitude enhances our ability to feel empathy, reduces aggressive behavior, and allows us to appreciate other’s success without envy. In addition gratitude enhances our resilience when faced with difficult situations.
We know how easy it is to fall into negative thought patterns so how can one cultivate gratitude? A couple of suggestions include noticing your every day life from a point of gratitude and vowing not to complain, criticize or gossip for a week. And for those who like arts and craftsy kind of aides to their practice here’s a good article.