Thanksgiving is a very important holiday despite retailers’ tendencies to let other special days crowd it out. It reminds us to stop and think about the positive things in our lives. It is a chance to be mindful, give thanks, and re-center our assessments of what has happened during the past year so that we remember the good things.
The Benefits of Gratitude
Being thankful isn’t just something we “should do” based on our grandmothers’ opinions. It is actually shown to have physical, mental, and social benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, feeling thankful can decrease depression and anxiety as well as lowering the risk of disease and reducing chronic pain. The reason it often takes effort to be thankful, the Clinic says, is because the brain is wired for problem-solving instead of simple appreciation. This tendency must be overridden to gain the benefits of gratitude.
Harvard University’s Harvard Health Publishing mentions a study done by UC Davis that found that after writing about things they were grateful about for 10 weeks, participants exercised more and went to the doctor less than a comparison group that wrote about things that aggravated its members. Also, a study done by a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania found that writing and personally delivering a letter of gratitude to someone who participants thought of as never having been properly thanked caused a massive increase in participants’ happiness scores – and the effect lasted for a whole month!
Gratitude should be actively practiced on a daily basis to reap its rewards, just like it would be taken daily if it were standard medicine. One idea is to start the day by thinking of someone or something that you’re thankful for. If you think of a person, thank them later for whatever makes you glad they exist.
Biological Changes Brought on by Giving Thanks
Behaviors and mindsets make actual changes to your biology. Being thankful releases oxytocin, which is a hormone that helps people connect on an emotional level. This is sometimes called the “love hormone” because of how it inspires feelings of attachment. The people receiving your gratitude get a hit of oxytocin of their own from knowing you appreciate them.
How to Express Your Gratitude
There are many ways to cultivate and show gratitude. If you want to show thankfulness to a person in your life, Harvard Publishing suggests writing a letter or email. On occasion, write one to yourself, too.
If you don’t have time to write, you can give thanks to a person mentally. Just thinking about them with a thankful mindset will bring some benefits to you.
Count your blessings. Every week, look back on everything that went right and write it into a gratitude journal. It can help to list a certain number of things you’re thankful for, such as three or five. Take notes of how these events made you feel, as well.
To get the most benefit from gratitude, it’s important to practice it all year round, not just during the Thanksgiving season. While a yearly holiday or season can provide temporary benefits, the full effect comes from making it an ongoing habit. Take the time to be grateful on a daily basis. This will ensure that you remember and actively think of the good things and people in your life and keep them from being overlooked as you face the challenges of life.
At Northeast Nebraska Insurance, we want to express our gratitude for our families and our clients. Thank you for letting us serve you and for being a part of our lives. We look forward to being there for you in the coming years!