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Thanksgiving


Every November, I think of Thanksgiving. I don’t mean the American Holiday—where families gather with their famous delicious dishes and everyone gorges on food and football (although that is a delightful tradition). No, I mean the practice of thanksgiving—giving thanks for the things we have to be grateful for. For me, the month of November always serves as a reminder to practice an “attitude of gratitude,” as I like to call the practice of remaining grateful. The more I practice gratitude is the more I understand how very powerful and important it is. So, I thought I would take a few moments to share some of the ways being grateful can change you, and even change your life---for the better.

Many people throughout history have recognized the importance of gratitude in life. Some have summed it up, as follows:

Gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life.” (Jack Canfield)

It is not happy people who are grateful, it is grateful people who are happy.” (unknown)

The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.” (Oprah Winfrey)

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” (Melody Beattie)

If all of this is true, it must be important for us to understand gratitude, and to learn how to practice it. Gratitude, by definition, is:

the positive state of being grateful; an overwhelming feeling of appreciation and thankfulness, and the desire to return kindness to others.”

I think, simply defined, it can mean remaining focused on the positive things you have in your life to be grateful for, and remembering that there are always others less fortunate than you in some ways. For example, today you can be grateful that you are alive. There are many others who did not get to live as many years as you have. Life is a gift, even though we may sometimes forget that. We can go further and be grateful that we have eyes that can see, ears that can hear, legs to walk with, etc. Every single thing you have is something to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude means trying not to take even the most basic things for granted. It may seem insignificant, but scientific research demonstrates how living by this practice can effect real changes. For example, gratitude boosts your happiness set-point by 25%! Your happiness set-point is your baseline level of happiness experienced on a daily level—practicing gratitude raises your baseline automatically (Dr. Robert Emmons, Ph.D). Additionally, a sleep study done in 2009 shows that grateful people sleep longer per night and fall asleep easier than their counterparts. Gratitude also correlates with healthier physical states, in general. It reduces chronic pain, reduces depression, increases energy levels, and helps the body heal. Resilience is also increased by gratitude practices, as well as contentment and peace of mind. Stress levels are lowered, self-esteem and work performance are increased, and relationships are improved. The people around you definitely benefit from and appreciate a more positive, grateful attitude, over complaints and chronic dissatisfaction. So, it helps you and those around you to have more peace and enjoyment in life. Can someone tell me a good reason NOT to practice gratitude? It seems, to me, like a very wise choice to make at this point.

Our happiness, life satisfaction, and even physical health, are largely dependent on our mental and emotional states. “Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is present-oriented,” (Sonja Lyubomirsky). We all want to be happy and to enjoy the time we are given on this earth—so where do we start?? Celebrate progress, not perfection. Cultivate gratitude over comparison. Realize that what you have is more than enough.

I hope you can remember this while enjoying your family festivities this week!


With the stress of the holiday season in mind, I have created some products to help you stay focused on your gratitude journey--feel free to download one of my digital gratitude journals or use the Grateful mug for your morning coffee as a daily reminder to stay grateful! (all products are available for purchase/download on the books/merchandise tab on my site: www.kristigodwin.com)







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