The Thanksgiving Holiday is celebrated by millions throughout this country, thanks to the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians. In 1621, they shared an autumn harvest feast that historians acknowledge as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. But it wasn’t until in the midst of the Civil War in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November (Source).
This year we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 23, 2017. Many celebrate this holiday by taking a moment to express their gratitude for blessings or goodwill they’ve received over the course of the year and then share a feast with family and friends.
But what if we made the practice of gratitude a daily part of our lives, not just once a year? It’s interesting that President Lincoln declared a day to give thanks while in the midst of chaos and turmoil. Could there be a hidden lesson that we can all learn? What would happen to our lives and daily outlook if we decided to practice gratitude on a daily basis in spite of what our circumstances looked like? It turns out that practicing gratitude each day may do more for your life than most realize.
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude Daily
Psychotherapist and author Amy Morin published an article in Forbes Magazine entitled “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude That Will Motivate You to Give Thanks Year Round.” In it, she lays out the benefits of practicing gratitude daily that I’d like to share.
It wasn’t until I became an adult and had gone through a few trials and tribulations that I learned about the art of gratitude. My circumstances at the time may not have changed overnight, but my outlook on life did. I was no longer focused on just my problems because when I began to incorporate this practice into my life, I realized that the blessings I’d been given significantly outweighed my problems. Here are a few of my favorites from her article:
- Gratitude Opens The Door To More Relationships
According to a 2014 study in the journal Emotion, showing appreciation and a simple thank you either through a note–or just acknowledging someone else’s contributions–can lead to more opportunities. It makes people feel good to be appreciated, and in return it makes you feel good too!
- Gratitude Improves Physical and Psychological Health
Leading gratitude researcher, Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. concludes that gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. And according to a 2012 study in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, and they report feeling healthier than other people.
I can personally attest to both of these. Toxic emotions cause toxic health problems if they’re left to fester. Gratitude, if practiced consistently, slowly erodes the rust that toxic emotions cause to your soul and makes you feel physically better.
- Gratitude Improves Self Esteem
Studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who seem to be better off financially or professionally (which reduces your self-esteem), people who practice gratitude are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
President Abraham Lincoln was a thinker ahead of his times, and I believe he personally knew the benefit of practicing gratitude. He had many trials in his lifetime, yet was able to accomplish many great things in spite of the setbacks.
This year, enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones and consider sharing the importance of daily gratitude during a conversation. It’s a gift they will always be grateful for.