Webster’s defines gratitude as a feeling of appreciation or thanks; so essentially gratitude is the affirmation of goodness. This is important because while no one’s lives are perfect or stress free gratitude forces us to take the time to remember that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. The second component to gratitude is acknowledging where the goodness comes from. This helps direct our focus outside of ourselves and see how we have been supported and affirmed by other people. The practice of gratitude helps to guard against taking things for granted and instead we see gifts in life as new and exciting.
Often we are such a forward thinking (I need to go to the grocery store or pack for that trip) or past thinking (I wish I had gone to that meeting) society that we miss the opportunity to stay in the present and relish on the good that has happened. Gratitude gives us a placeholder to celebrate the present. Furthermore, when we take the time to acknowledge the good in our lives – big or small – we are better equipped to block toxic and negative emotions. This in turn allows us to become more resistant to stress – and who doesn’t want to strengthen that skill? Finally, people who practice gratitude have a higher sense of self-worth and in today’s society (especially our children’s generation) when we are constantly comparing, competing, and trying to “keep up with the Jones’” being able to have a strong sense of self-worth is an excellent coping strategy.
So this Thanksgiving while you are taking the time to reflect on what you are grateful for – know that you are actually promoting positive changes psychologically, physically, and socially and perhaps you can just start pausing to reflect on what you are thankful for more often!