The healing power of gratitude

First things first, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. But I know the day itself can sometimes be stressful, so I would encourage everyone to take this weekend and really relax. Eat leftovers, watch some good movies and get some sleep!

Thanksgiving can be difficult because we’re often trying to fit so much into one day. We want to cook and eat and spend time with family and friends and distant relations, and do it all with an air of good cheer. But the most important part of Thanksgiving is something we don’t need to fit into one day, but rather, can be woven into every day of our lives.

I’m talking, of course, about gratitude.

I want to make a suggestion. Instead of picking one day a year to celebrate how thankful we are for all of our good fortune, what if we make a deliberate practice of doing that every day?

I like to do this in the shower every morning. For a minute or two, I’ll take a break from planning (or worrying about) my day, and think of ten things I’m grateful for. They can be big things — I’m grateful that I have a home to live in and plenty of food to eat — or small. Sometimes, I’m just grateful for a beautiful sunrise or the calm of a rainy day.

A daily gratitude practice can’t help but make us feel better, at least a little bit. It’s a great way to remind ourselves that no matter what, there is good going on in our lives. It’s a way of taking our attention away from what we may be unhappy about, and redirecting it to what we are happy about.

But we can also take it one step further. Instead of just being grateful for the good things, we can get really wild, and be grateful for the bad things as well. If this sounds crazy, bear with me. 

Think about a really difficult experience that you’ve had. In hindsight, did it do anything to help you grow as a person? Probably. So often, the hard and unpleasant experiences we have are actually teachers for us. If we can practice being grateful for our difficulties as well as our joys, we can start to acknowledge that. This opens up our whole experience — we don’t have to fear adversity anymore.

Over time, practicing gratitude for the good and the bad in our lives has a deep and transformative effect on us. It can bring about great healing and a greater sense of ease and confidence in ourselves.

Just give it a try :)

For more on the power of gratitude, check out this brilliant TEDx talk by Dr. Tanmeet Sethi.