On this last day of the long Thanksgiving weekend, it seems only appropriate for today’s spiritual prep to be gratitude.
With the big meal behind us, it’s likely that most of us have already put the giving of thanks on hold until next November and slipped easily back into our regularly scheduled program of plowing through our days, especially with the insanity of holiday planning, shopping, preparing, the making of reservations and appointments, and everything else that has to be done looming large ahead. Which is why now, more than ever, it’s important to hold onto the spirit of Thanksgiving just a little bit longer. And then a little more. Until you no longer have to hold on because it’s become a part of you.
Why? Because gratitude practice–the habit of counting our blessings–can change our attitudes, our health, and our lives for the better. Just a few of the benefits, according to researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, include:
- Feeling better about our lives as a whole
- Being more optimistic
- Making more progress toward goals
- Getting more regular exercise
- Getting sick less
And there’s nothing quite like being healthy, optimistic, and goal-oriented to help you weather just about any storm.
Probably the simplest way to cultivate gratitude is to take a few minutes at the beginning or end of a day, grab a notebook, and write down 3 things you’re grateful for–be it sunny skies, hanging out with your friends, getting an A on a test, or a raise at work. You can chooe anything that made your life happier, more comfortable, or made you feel more inspired.
Personally I like to write down my three things at night before bed because focusing on the good things from my day helps dissipate the stress of everything I didn’t get done. But writing them in the morning works just as well and helps you start your day on a positive note.