Gratitude is more profound than you might think
There’s no doubt about it. The past few years have been challenging in so many ways. It’s understandable that you may be feeling a little unsure or negative. Please don’t let this become your new normal.
It’s so easy to get distracted by all the negative news (and fake news) you see in the media and social media. But if you get stuck in distraction long enough, you run the risk of projecting that every day negativity onto your future goals and dreams.
One of the best antidotes to negativity is gratitude
In any situation, there’s so much to be grateful for.
First, you’ve faced hard things before. We all have. When you look back, you can probably find at least one positive thing to be thankful for.
Being thankful can help heal you. It can change your brain and your thought patterns for the better.
This year has been particularly challenging for me. For the first time in my life, I’ve faced a health challenge (I know I’m lucky overall-and grateful for it). I’ll admit there were times I was frustrated and hopeless.
But when I look back over the months of frustration and feeling crummy, I am struck with a sense of gratitude for all those that tried to help and finally for answers.
I’m also profoundly grateful that this is a condition that can be remedied. It’s going to take a move and some lifestyle changes, but I should get better.
I’ve found the more I focus my attention on what I’m grateful for, the better I feel about everything. Even the hard stuff.
While gratitude is getting a lot of attention and research these days, it’s not a new idea.
Some history you might not know
In 1621, the colonists in Plymouth and Wampanoag Indians (my ancestors) shared a three day feast to celebrate the end of the harvest and give thanks for surviving their first year in New England.
The existing records show that most of the people at the feast were men, plus a few teenagers and children. 78% of the women who arrived on the Mayflower died from an epidemic disease that swept through the colony.
Hmmm. Sounds like this isn’t the first rough year when people have had to dig a little deeper for gratitude.
Both the colonists and the Wampanoag came from cultures of thanksgiving and gratitude. Tom Begley, the executive liaison for administration, research and special projects at Plimoth Plantation, says:
“Giving thanks is really an important part of both cultures. For the English, before and after every meal there was a prayer of thanksgiving. For something on this scale, celebrating a successful harvest, there definitely would have been moments of giving thanks to their God.” *
The Wampanoag culture traditionally gave thanks as a daily, ongoing practice. Every time someone would go fishing or hunting or harvest a plant, they would offer a prayer of thanks, says Linda Coombs at Plimouth Plantation. *
I love the idea of a culture of gratitude. We’re only now re-learning what many ancient cultures knew so well. Gratitude is good for you and everyone around you.
In modern times (now), it helps to have some solid research to make this ancient knowledge even more credible.
After more than 15 years of research, it’s pretty clear that gratitude has a ton of benefits:
-it makes you a happier person and can counteract depression and negative thinking
-it helps you sleep better
-it can boost your immune system
-fewer aches and pains
-improves self-care (which also improves your skin)
-it may keep you from overeating
Studies have found that grateful people experience a number of health benefits-all associated with a more radiant complexion.
A happy, healthy person is a beautiful person that shines from the inside out and the outside in
A happier, less stressed person has better skin. This is because hormones like cortisol, inflammation, and negative emotions (all BAD for your skin) are reduced with gratitude.
If you need a little help feeling thankful, it’s understandable.
Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to the human mind. We’re programmed for negativity as a survival mechanism. Those mental ruts run deep. Which is why we have to make an effort to practice gratitude just like we practice yoga, or fitness, or a good skin care routine. It’s the daily routine of taking a moment to notice your blessings and be thankful for them (and maybe even writing them down, which is even more powerful).
It’s very simple to start practicing gratitude
One of the methods that’s been proven to boost your mood and happiness level is called three good things, or sometimes 3 blessings. Every night before you go to bed, write down three good things that happened to you or that you’re grateful for that day. Do the practice daily and after just a few weeks, you’ll notice that you’re happier, more relaxed, sleeping better, and probably feeling better.
It really works.
Taking moments out each day to appreciate and give thanks for your many blessings is an old practice that’s probably even more important now. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by negative news and feelings.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to begin.
Then let’s just keep going and find gratitude every day. Even when it seems hard to be grateful. Even when your life feels like it’s falling apart.
I am grateful for you, for you reading this blog and for supporting SunWindSnow.