To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kindness that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude. — Albert Schweitzer
In the SPARC system, we talk about renewal a great deal, and having gratitude and thankfulness turns out to be renewing in numerous ways. But what are three was to practice thankfulness? You felt it yesterday, but can we continue the practice of being thankful without the federally-supported holiday?
Now that we’re in the post-turkey tryptophan induced hangover, its time to reflect on the practice of gratefulness beyond Thanksgiving.
According to an analysis of studies at University of Massachusetts, if you merely journal about the things your grateful for, it’ll make a lot of difference in other parts of your life, including exercise and illness: “People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis have been found to exercise more regularly, have fewer physical symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and feel more optimistic about their upcoming week as compared to those who keep journals recording the stressors or neutral events of their lives.”
2. Talk to People about Gratitude
As an introvert (get energy by being alone with my thoughts), this one is tough – daily discussion. You see, I don’t like the phone much, so my gratitude is normally aimed at those around me, like family members. But our friends at UMass say this works, and when combined with other methods, is sufficient. Of course I started this blog and the whole LifeSPARCS system, its an outlet for expressing gratitude. Pro-tip – Ask people about their days in a different way. Instead of “how was your day” ask, What was the best part of your day today?”, or “What is one thing that made you feel really happy today. What are the benefits? Anywhere from higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, energy and sleep duration – so get talking!
3. Be Alert to your surroundings
Noting the small things will provide you with the ability to renew more so than trying to buy more and more stuff. Eventually the effect of that new house, the new car, the new sweater wears off and you’re miserable again. Instead, notice how nice your seats are, how comfortable your bed is, or how good those black olives are at the Thanksgiving table. Think how nice it is to have people around you today, and how empty life would be without them. For those who aren’t with you and you miss, be thankful for the time you did have with them, and if possible, vow to make more of an effort to call mom, sister, brother, dad, or whatever.
UMass recommends nature- “Choose a natural object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower or an insect, or even the clouds or the moon.” I found that a nice camera with a good zoom lens helps with this.
How do you practice gratitude daily, weekly? How did you habituate yourself to it? I’ll be thankful if you share below! 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving.