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Why Gratitude Isn’t Just for Thanksgiving

Written by Francesca, Friday, November 17th, 2017 in Culture, Getting Things Done

The best parts about Thanksgiving may be stuffing your face, watching football, and hanging out with family, but the hallmark of the holiday is gratitude. After all, its very name reveals what the day is really about: giving thanks.

No doubt this is no issue for you on that Thursday. But with Christmas décor out the day after Halloween, and Black Friday creeping into Thanksgiving evening, it’s easy to forget to carry the spirit of Thanksgiving into the rest of the year.

Does it matter? Do you really have to express your thanks all year round? Science shows that yes, it does matter, and specific ways of practicing gratitude come with far-reaching benefits in all areas of your life.

How Gratitude Improves Your Physical Health

Being thankful enhances your health just as much as diet and exercise through the following ways:

  • Boosting your immune system
  • Improving your quality of sleep
  • Decreasing stress, aggression, and depression
  • Encouraging you to make choices that take care of your body

Because your body and emotions are linked together, it makes sense that a quality that betters your emotional health also strengthens your physical health.

How Gratitude Wins You Relationships

Focusing on your blessings leads to happiness, kindness, empathy, and optimism, all of which are attractive qualities. People naturally tend to want to associate with those who are more like Elmo than Oscar the Grouch, winning you more friendships – and genuine, lasting ones.

Your positive outlook, ability to recognize and value the good, and increased satisfaction make you more romantically appealing as well. Your lack of envy is also a strong indicator of being more financially responsible, as you likely aren’t keeping up with the Joneses.

Thankfulness also affects relational conflict. You’re less prone to have problems when you’re showing appreciation to your partner, and you become more comfortable with and precise in bringing up issues.

How Gratitude Boosts Your Employment

The benefits to your employment are more indirect. When you’re mentally, emotionally, and physically healthier, you perform your job better and get along well with others. This, in turn, can lead to wonderful opportunities in the workplace.

If you are in a managerial position, your expressions of gratitude to employees beneath you can improve their performance as well, reducing problems and lifting the whole team.

How To Show Gratitude

Don’t worry, you don’t have to go around smiling and saying thank you all day to everyone you meet. Forced, exhausting behavior is more harmful than helpful. Instead, follow these suggestions from Harvard Health:

  • Keep a daily gratitude journal.
  • Write meaningful thank you notes.
  • Meditate and/or pray.
  • Express thanks in your mind and heart.

The key is to be sincere. And remember, being grateful doesn’t mean you can’t ever be sad or angry. It just means that you don’t let the bad times keep you down.

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