As Wellness Wednesday focuses on developing Top 20 habits, the one that gets highlighted at this time of the year is gratitude. Tomorrow, as a nation, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. As Americans, we certainly have a great deal for which to be thankful.
However, I want to suggest that tomorrow is not the most important day this week. Rather, a more important day is Friday. Not because it’s Black Friday and you will find numerous sales during your shopping adventures, but because it’s the day after a National Day of Thanksgiving. Will we be grateful on Friday? If so, then what we experienced on Thanksgiving Day will be meaningful. If not, then Thanksgiving Day will only be about a feast and football. More than a day of gratitude, we need a habit of gratitude.
Gratitude is an expression of appreciation for something or someone which initiates a virtuous cycle…once one good thing starts happening (gratitude), other good things happen, which cause the first thing to continue happening. The more gratitude there is, the better things are. Grateful people bring more energy to life, solve problems more effectively, have fewer health-related issues, experience less stress, and have a greater satisfaction with life.
A grateful mindset begins by training ourselves to focus on opportunity and abundance rather than negativity and limitations. By doing so, gratitude produces better mental health by unshackling us from toxic emotions such as resentment and envy.
Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain. Studies show that when people feel more grateful their brain activity is distinct from the brain activity of less grateful participants. More grateful participants showed greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with learning and decision making. Gratitude literally puts us in a different part of our brain – possibly having lasting effects on the brain as well as opening opportunities for us. Practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.
Reflection: Building a Habit of Gratitude.
Just take a minute each day to let your mind recount the numerous things for which you are grateful.
Best wishes to you and your loved ones.
From Willow, Kevin, and Tom…who have helped me develop a habit of gratitude.
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