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Boosting your gratitude practice

Joyful employee stretching at her desk, practicing workplace gratitude

I’ve hosted Thanksgiving at least a dozen times. In all honesty, it’s not my favorite holiday — mostly because I don’t love the traditional meal and don’t love to cook. Most years, I’d order the turkey dinner from Whole Foods so I could just reheat the bird and sides. Not once, not twice, but THREE times I cooked the giblets that were wrapped in plastic inside the bird. Thankfully, the plastic bag stayed intact, so the meal was saved.

Thanks to therapy, I have a lot more awareness of my mistake (especially a repeated one). I felt like I had to host — did it out of obligation and felt resentful that the responsibility laid on me. Did I have to host? Absolutely not. Looking back, I could’ve approached the holiday in a completely different way and/or set an intention that felt good to me (nothing to do with the actual dinner). 

It’s become a valuable lesson for me. Knowing that I always have options. I can also check in with myself to see what feels right and set healthy boundaries. 

The part of Thanksgiving that I absolutely love is spending time with loved ones and the collective focus on gratitude. It’s one of the few times, most of us feel free to share what we love about each other and what we cherish.

Benefits of gratitude

What if gratitude becomes more of a daily-ish practice? 

Research shows that practicing gratitude makes us happier and healthier. It helps us shift from toxic emotions (such as envy and resentment) to something positive. When we feel happiness, the central nervous system calms down — making us more peaceful. There are also studies that show the positive and lasting effects on the brain, which improves our well-being and mental health. 

Simple practices

Practicing gratitude works best if you create a habit, but not a strict one. Fit it in whenever you remember. Feeling like you have to or should have…defeats the purpose ; ) That said, if there’s a certain time of day where you consistently have a break, that might be the best time to practice gratitude.

Just give yourself time and space to practice. This can literally be 1 minute or 10 minutes. The shorter, the better as you don’t want it to become a “chore.” 

Here are a few ideas: 

  • Journal: designate a notebook to write what you’re thankful for, including specific things about yourself! Set a time for 5 minutes and freewrite. Then read through each item and feel your gratitude. When you connect your thoughts and feelings, you amplify your gratitude.
  • Say/think affirmations: select a time before an everyday activity, like before a meal or bedtime. Think about specific things that you appreciate from the day and/or about your life. I no longer recommend stacking (like going through your list while brushing your teeth). Being fully present while practicing gratitude is way more powerful. 
  • Do a guided meditation: find free ones on youtube like this 10 minute one or this 5 minute one by Tony Robbins or check out meditation apps. Most have a free trial so you can see if you like and will actually use it.

By practicing gratitude more frequently over a substantial period of time, you’ll see a change in your overall mood and behavior. You’ll appreciate more and feel more centered. 

I’m truly thankful you took the time to read this blog. 
Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

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