27 Nov Give Yourself the Gift of Gratitude
Give yourself the gift of gratitude this season. I know this is a prevalent message at this time of year, but you really can rewire your brain from naturally negative to jolly. Studies have shown that, for healthy people and those with physical or mental health challenges, expressing gratitude daily has a multitude of benefits. It’s a game changer!
Benefits of Gratitude
Gratitude results from an awareness and appreciation of people, events, or things that are meaningful to you. If we look through a lens of appreciation when viewing the world around us, we are more apt to believe the world is a positive place. Additionally, it helps foster the belief that there are other people and greater forces around us creating good things which can alleviate the need to control our surroundings.
Research has found that feeling grateful improves physical health (immune system to gastrointestinal issues to headaches), promotes positive re-framing of negative situations, increases overall life satisfaction, and resiliency. Further, within relationships if people express gratitude more often, they are better able to more comfortably discuss relationship concerns.
Simple Gratitude Practices
- Say “Thank You” to your spouse and children regularly for acts you genuinely appreciate.
- Say “Thank You” to people you interact with in the service industry – make eye contact.
- Write a note of gratitude to someone who supports you, prepared a lovely meal for you, sent a requested item on time (send or not).
- Notice things that bring you joy. Express gratitude out loud or silently. For example, your neighbor’s beautiful maple tree, the night sky.
- End your day in prayer or meditation (5-15 minutes). Offer thanks to God, the universe or the beautiful link that connects us all (choose what resonates authentically for you).
“Be Grateful” Hits a Nerve
Lastly, I want to touch on how being told to be grateful may strike a nerve. Perhaps, all this gratitude stuff just feels a bit triggering or icky. Below, are some examples of life experiences that could lead to a sensitivity to expressing gratitude as a practice.
- Raised by narcissistic parent(s) where appreciation was demanded.
- Childhood poverty where charitable donations and “help” was given.
- Family mantra that you must do for yourself; asking for help is weak.
- Adopted at birth or from the foster care system.
Here’s the thing, authentic gratitude is different than “you should be grateful.” Accepting and appreciating true gifts from loved ones, co-workers, and the universe is healing for everyone. For those that have experienced “being grateful” in guilt-inducing or you’re less-than way, it’s especially healing to take back the gift of gratitude for yourself.
Kate Murphy, LMSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Berkeley Lake, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.