Thanksgiving is this weekend (real thanksgiving because #Canada) and it’s that time of year when we reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives. Are there other reasons to show gratitude? What benefits does being thankful have other than a bunch of food in the fall?
Well, there are actually a number of science-backed reasons why you should be thankful throughout the year . Gratitude can positively affect your mental and physical health by increasing your patience, improving your self care, helping you sleep, regulating eating patterns, reducing depression tendencies and giving you lasting happiness .
So, how does it do this and how can you be more grateful in your day to day life? According to an article in Psychology Today by Andrea Brandt, PhD, MFT, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (responsible for regulating stress) and the ventral tegmental area of the brain (important in your reward system) . The stimulation of these two areas may be responsible for the positive effects an attitude of gratitude has.
Arthur C. Brooks (author of Gross National Happiness) outlines three strategies to practicing gratitude in your every day life . “Interior gratitude”, “exterior gratitude” and being “grateful for useless things”.
Number One. Interior Gratitude.
Keep a list or reflect on your own life and the things you are grateful for. It may even be helpful to just mentally thank people in your life that have made a difference or have done something you are grateful for . Be mindful of your life, mindfulness meditation is a technique you can practice to centre yourself in the present.
Number Two. Exterior Gratitude.
Writing thank you notes may seem like something of the past, but a study that came out this year (June 2018) shows how people tend to under estimate how expressions of gratitude may be received . Saying “Thank You” can actually benefit your own well-being as well as the wellbeing of the person you are thanking. So, you should DEFINITELY send that thank you card .
Number 3. Be Grateful for Useless Things.
This one is, in my opinion, is the best one. Be mindfully thankful for the small things too, like how beautiful fall can be or the way steam rises from your coffee in the morning .