National Gratitude Month

Article by: Michella Conrad, M.Ed., Doctoral Intern

Why Gratitude Matters

This month invites us to reflect on the value of gratitude and acknowledge its importance. 

The following is a practical definition of gratitude that may be used in a therapeutic setting: “Gratefulness is an expression of appreciation for things, people, or experiences that are valued and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of mind characterized by feelings of thankfulness or admiration” (Sansone & Sansone, 2010). Recognizing and appreciating the positive aspects of life is an integral part of practicing gratitude! 

Gratitude is a component of a more expansive outlook on life. It might be attributed to an external source (such as a pet, for example), another person, or an entity that is not a human (e.g., a universal omnipresent being). Because Thanksgiving is drawing near, every one of us will soon have the chance to show our gratitude at some point in the near future, but why should we continue to do so after the holiday is over? 

Practicing gratefulness enhances our emotions for the better, reducing our stress levels and improving our overall health and well-being (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000)! It is also closely associated with life skills such as collaboration, purpose, creativity, and perseverance (American Psychological Association, 2012). 

On average, grateful individuals have fewer stress-related diseases, lower blood pressure, are physically fitter, are happier, have a higher income, and more fulfilling personal and professional relationships, and are generally more likable (Mills, Redwine, Wilson, Pung, Chinh, Greenberg, Lunde, Maisel, Raisinghani, Wood, & Chopra, 2015). The effects of gratitude can even be seen in neuroimaging. Brief expressions of gratefulness have dramatic and enduring impacts on brain activity and sensitivity, potentially connected to monitoring the self and others, with implications for practices and therapies incorporating gratefulness expression (Kini, Wong, McInnis, Gabana, & Brown, 2016). Gratitude allows us to redirect our emphasis from the negative to the positive aspects of our human existence. The everyday practice of gratitude strengthens our connection with ourselves and the external world! The perspective of our life has the chance to improve when we are grateful.

Other Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

  • Gratitude facilitates the formation of new connections with others.
  • Gratefulness enhances physical wellness.
  • Gratitude enhances psychological well-being.
  • Gratitude increases empathy and decreases hostility/aggression.
  • Grateful people sleep better.
  • Gratitude promotes self-esteem.

How to Cultivate Gratitude

Start a gratitude journal. Every day, reflect on a person or something for which you are grateful. You’ll discover that your respect for individuals around you gets deeper and more affectionate the longer you retain a relationship. When you reread your reflections, you can reminisce on the connections and their successes. 

Before falling asleep each night, reflect on the day’s pleasant experiences. Take time each night to do this task. Before getting out of bed, one might identify three things for which they are thankful. Even on the worst days, force yourself to accomplish these three things, even if your internal voice is antagonistic. If you have children, take a minute with them before bedtime or in the morning to encourage them to reflect on something for which they are thankful. By discussing what you’re grateful for, you demonstrate the significance of the practice.

Express your appreciation to others. Expressing gratitude for someone’s kindness, assistance, or friendship can improve your relationship with them. If you have missed saying thanks to someone, consider writing them a letter expressing your appreciation. If at all feasible, deliver it in person.

Demonstrate gratitude by contributing to your town, neighborhood, or preferred organization. This may be spent with your time volunteering, resources, or donations.

Utilize the hashtag #NationalGratitudeMonth in social media posts to amplify gratitude practice.

Happy National Gratitude Month from us at Deep Eddy Psychotherapy!

Resources:

  • To actively practice gratitude, visit:

https://gratefulness.org/practice/practice-space/

https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-appreciation/#modern-gratitude

https://ggia.berkeley.edu/#filters=gratitude

https://www.mindful.org/an-introduction-to-mindful-gratitude/

  • Journal Prompt provided by APA:

https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/topss/teaching-resources/gratitude-journal.pdf

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