Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gratitude--not just for Thanksgiving

Gratitude is such an amazing tool and November is a great time to talk about the power of gratitude considering Thanksgiving is this week.  Let the habit of gratitude start this week and continue through out the year.

Why is gratitude important? Gratitude has been called the “metastrategy” for happiness, and research backs that up. In fact, gratitude has been shown to: increase self-worth,help in seeing the positive and savoring the good
aid in coping with stress and trauma strengthen bonds with others
obliterate negative emotions, including greed, anger and fear
reduce physical symptoms, such as headache, nausea and colds.
Beyond “counting your blessings,” here are some practical ways to weave gratitude into your life:

Keep a daily or weekly gratitude journal. Benefits come both from writing and from revisiting what you’ve written.
Try an exercise called, “What went right and why,” with your family. You can do it around the dinner table or anytime your family comes together. You think about someone who made your day or something you did to make your day go right.
Write a gratitude letter. Expressing gratitude directly to someone in a letter is extremely effective. You may or may not send it.
Write a list for someone you love that includes “10 reasons I love/like you.” This is a surefire way to reinvigorate a relationship.

I encourage you to pick one of the gratitude techniques and try it on for size. You may also want to get some support. Is there a friend, colleague or family member that you would like to involve in this endeavor?

Whatever you decide, remember these words from Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic Benedictine monk known for interfaith dialogues and his work looking at the relationship between science and spirituality,  “It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us happy.”

adapted from: Mary Farrell, MS, PCC, is an integrative health & wellness coach and an exercise physiologist with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing’s LiveWell Fitness Center.