When I’m worried and I can’t sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep.
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
—William Arthur Ward
It’s coming up on Thanksgiving, where we pause for a weekend and give thanks for all the good things in our lives. For some, it’s the ritual of family and friends. For others, it’s football. For still others, it’s a table filled with food and other treats. Isn’t it curious that the end of November is one of the few times in our lives that gratitude is a formal tradition? And isn’t it ironic that the season in which we give thanks and the season where our children (and some of us that are older) are making their holiday wish lists, come so close together?
Heard about gratitude training, which focuses on “present state awareness”? Savoring the present and positively experiencing all that life has to offer is key to this perspective. Dr. Robert Eammons and Dr. Michael McCollough have been looking at the far-reaching effects of practicing gratitude, just like working out and exercise. In their research, three groups were monitored. The first group kept a diary of all the events that occurred during the day. The second recorded all of the unpleasant experiences and the third made a daily list of all of the things they were grateful for. The positive results overwhelmingly favored the daily gratitude exercise group. Both professors agreed that anyone can increase their sense of well being and create positive social relationships just from counting their blessings.
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started is easy. Beginning today, for one week, either over a cup of coffee or on getting out of bed, ask yourself this question each morning:
What am I truly grateful for in my life?
Aim for 5 answers. Having trouble at first? Let’s start with being grateful for your five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. How about being grateful for the warmth of the sun? For the beauty of the fall colors? The breeze on your face? For the shoes on your feet? The freedom we all enjoy?
If you’re still having trouble, prime the pump by asking:
- What relationships do I have that are special to me?
- What do I take for granted?
- What freedoms, unique abilities and options do I have that others around the world don’t?
- What allies and supporters have helped me to get to where I am?
You can use these questions to reboot your imagination. Give yourself a chance to put your appreciation back on track. Wishing you a season filled with gratitude and thanks. And happy Thanksgiving!