Everyday Gratitude: Thanksgiving Year-round

October 7, 2011

By Dr. Carolyn Anderson

My fellow Canadians and I are celebrating Thanksgiving soon while Americans wait to celebrate the holiday until November. But no matter when or if you celebrate Thanksgiving, gratitude should be a part of our everyday lives. It’s important to step back and be thankful on a daily basis. While we should always be striving to do more and be more, we must simultaneously be content with what we have. As Oprah once said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.

Benefits of Gratitude

gratitudeThere are real tangible benefits to gratitude. Gratitude improves our overall emotional and physical well-being.

Research shows that grateful people are more likely to have more energy, be able to handle stress better, be less likely to be bothered by minor inconveniences, and suffer from less depression. A study of teachers in Hong Kong found that an 8 week gratitude intervention program was successful in reducing employee burnout.

By focusing on what is positive and good in our relationships, you will find yourself appreciating, supporting and taking more interest in your partner. This will change the way they respond to you and enrich your relationship at all levels.

I once read of someone who transformed his relationship with his wife by writing one thing he appreciated about her every day for one year and giving it to her in a journal. Not only did she love the gift and the gesture, it got him focusing on the positive aspects of his life partner for the entire year and their relationship has been amazing ever since.

Another benefit to gratitude is that when you focus on the abundance of possibilities around you, you begin to see more opportunities to expand and improve your business or career and your life. Robert A. Emmons, PhD, author of Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, claims gratitude helps an individual create a higher income and superior work outcomes.

The Journal of Personality & Social Psychology published a 2003 study by Emmons that divided hundreds of people into 3 groups that were instructed to keep journals. One group recorded all their daily events, one group recorded their daily hassles and the other group recorded things they were grateful for. The 3rd group participants were not only more optimistic but had better progress on their goals and felt more loved.

In another study, researchers from the University of California found that students who kept gratitude journals were sick less often, exercised more and had more optimism than those in the control group.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

To get in the habit of practicing everyday gratitude, try keeping a gratitude journal yourself for the next month. Before you go to bed sit down and write 5 things you were grateful for that day. It could be a kiss from your spouse, your grandchild smiling at you, a beautiful sunset or simply that you are healthy. Whatever it is write it down and continue doing this for one month. See the great things that being grateful will bring into your life.

About the Author: Dr. Carolyn Anderson is an eye surgeon who founded Impowerage to raise money for macular degeneration research. She practices cataract surgery in Langley, BC and is a professional speaker who speaks on managing your energy. She recently co-wrote a book, “Pushing to the Front, Front Line Strategies from the World’s Leading Experts, with Brian Tracy.

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