The Green Sheet Online Edition
November 24, 2008 • Issue 08:11:02
The magic of gratitude
||Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.|
– William Faulkner
Are you hard pressed to find a spot for your energy drink amid the turkey, produce and pumpkin pies filling the shelves when you open your refrigerator? Or, at your closet, are you searching for just the right clothes to pack for that annual trip to share a scrumptious feast with family and friends?
For many of us, giving thanks - and eating turkey - are essential ingredients for the Thanksgiving holiday. The leftover turkey may last for several days. But will there be any leftover gratitude?
The more you count your blessings, the more blessings you will find is a truism passed from one generation to the next. It's not a new concept.
What's new is researchers are finding evidence that daily gratitude has astounding effects on health and well-being.
It can reduce stress and make you feel more energized, connected and interested. It can chase away negative feelings of anger, regret and envy.
Does a body good
Being thankful makes it harder to focus on negatives. Gratitude may even increase your ability to forgive others as you concentrate on what is right with your life and what you have, rather than wrongs done to you and what you lack.
Scientific evidence supports the long-held notion that a healthy mind promotes a healthy body. Feeling grateful can even affect positive social change.
Once-a-year, Thanksgiving Day gratitude just won't cut it. It's habitual gratitude that makes the biggest waves.
Gratitude is a conscious choice. If you are a natural ingrate, do not despair; even you can learn to be thankful. Like establishing any other habit, being thankful gets easier with practice. The more you make a conscious decision to be grateful, the easier it becomes.
If you voice your gratitude to others, their smiles will spur you on to the next reckless act of gratitude. Let that warm fuzzy feeling well up from within, melt away stress and maybe even lower your blood pressure in the process. Imagine gratefulness transforming your body and soul.
Accentuate the positive
Why not start today? Before you go to bed tonight make a list of all the things you're grateful for - anything from a peachy parking space to a dinner invitation from a friend. Do this every night from now on.
We're told to dream big. Well, thank big, too. Be grateful for the big things like living in a country where you can vote and not have bombs dropping on you.
Be grateful for your health and that of your loved ones.
Don't forget the smaller things. Be grateful that your tire went flat in the driveway instead of on the freeway, or for the forecasted rain that came after your son's ball game instead of before, or for the two new merchant accounts you landed because a construction detour took you by their places of business.
As you appreciate what you are grateful for, you'll start noticing more positives at every turn.
We learned "magic words" at our mother's knee: please and thank you. It's time to once again realize their magic.
Did you send Thanksgiving cards to your merchants, letting them know how grateful you are for their business? You have another opportunity this year. Send them holiday cards that express the same sentiment.
And when was the last time you told your family how much you appreciate them for their support? Did you remember to thank your mom for that birthday card she sent? How about the barista behind the counter who gave you extra nutmeg on your eggnog latte?
Think about the last three times someone told you thank you. How did it make you feel? By saying thank you, you make two people happy with just two words - just like magic.
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