Thanksgiving… Every Day.

It’s the time of year when we gather with family and friends to give thanks. We take time off, have a good meal with people we care about, express some thanks, and maybe watch some football. It’s a nice ritual.

Now imagine this: an annual holiday, National Wellness Day, when we remember our bodies, eat healthy foods, get some exercise, and get enough sleep, etc. One day a year, then it’s back to pizza, sugary drinks, and binge watching. It’s a nice idea, but it falls way short of the benefits of practicing good health habits every day. Similarly, being thankful one day a year is a nice remembrance, but it falls way short of what could be.

What if we made every day Thanksgiving and took time to contemplate, feel, and express gratitude? Gratitude becomes a practice and way of life. There are several good reasons to do this:

  • Happiness & Positivity– numerous psychological studies have shown that people who regularly practice gratitude experience greater happiness and a more positive outlook than those who don’t.
  • Improved relationships – a study showed that people who felt appreciative of their partners were more responsive to their partner’s needs and they were more committed to their relationships. Gratitude also enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  • Physical health – grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and are more likely to take care of their health.
  • Mental health – Gratitude can lessen our experience of toxic emotions: envy, regret, frustration, etc. Gratitude also reduces stress and can help mitigate the emotional effects of trauma. Gratitude also helps build self-esteem.
  • Expanded awareness and spirituality – People who regularly feel gratitude often see that the source of that goodness lies outside themselves. As a result, it helps them connect to something larger than themselves— whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

All these benefits, and more, have been demonstrated by numerous studies. If you’re interested in digging deeper, do a web search on gratitude studies.

So how do we make gratitude a way of life? Here are a few practices to consider:

  • Take a couple of minutes a day to contemplate what you’re grateful for. I’ve been doing this for several years every evening before I go to sleep. This simple practice has positively impacted my life, awareness, and outlook.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Take regular time to write what you’re grateful for.
  • Express gratitude to the people in your life for who they are, what they do, and what they mean to you. This includes personal and business relationships.
  • Notice the people and things you’ve taken for granted—and feel gratitude. For example, the farmers who grow our food, the air we breathe, the bees that pollinate, the sanitation workers who haul away or trash, the gift of life. I could go on and on here.

My daily gratitude practice has made me so much more aware of the bounty that’s right in front of us. It makes life richer, more wondrous, and more fulfilling. In this frame of mind, my complaints seem small.

Every day is Thanksgiving!