Thanksgiving is, quite literally, a holiday of giving thanks, so most people have some tradition of gratitude. Whether it is making a list of the things you’ve been grateful for this year, or sitting down at the family table piled with turkey and all the fixin’s with each person expressing thanks for one thing in their life, you probably consider gratitude as important a part of the Thanksgiving festivities as the turkey and pumpkin pie. But what about practicing gratitude the rest of the year?
Gratitude Is Not Just for Thanksgiving
Study after study has shown that gratitude is good for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health, so the more often you do it, the better you’ll feel! Gratitude has been shown to have numerous benefits, from increased life satisfaction and happiness to more compassion to better rest. And in energy healing, gratitude goes a long way toward keeping your chakras clear and balanced.
The best way to practice gratitude is to add it to your spiritual routine. Just as you set time aside each day for meditation, set time aside each day for a gratitude session. Journaling right before bed about what you are thankful for is ideal, but any time of the day will work, and if you would prefer to speak your list, that’s fine, too. The most important thing is to keep it up. Here’s why:
- Gratitude can help you through tough times.
Listing what you are grateful for seems like a small thing, but it carries so much weight. It’s so easy to forget how lucky you are, how much there is to appreciate even when things are rough. Think about how often someone who goes through a trauma comes out the other side with a new zest for life—this is the power of gratitude in action. When you are aware of and thankful for the small joys of being a body on this planet as well as a soul born out of light, you create a reserve of happiness that boosts you through tough times.
- Gratitude is a natural sleep aid.
If you’re worried and anxious as you drift off—or toss and turn trying to drift off—the level of stress hormones in your body wreak havoc with your sleep quality, which results in you waking up feeling like you need another night of sleep. And a worried mind is restless, making it difficult to drift off. Gratitude improves your sleep quality and duration by keeping you calmer and less stressed, and having a positive attitude when you get into bed helps you fall asleep faster.
- It lowers your stress.
Stress is responsible for so much damage to your mind, body, and soul that you should do whatever you can to help combat its negative effects. Just as energy healing is a natural stress buster, so is gratitude. When you are being thankful, you are in a positive frame of mind and you are focusing not on your troubles, but on a little piece of happiness. This moment of respite increases your ability to cope with the stressors in your life.
- Gratitude deepens your relationships.
As part of your nightly gratitude list, try recognizing the qualities and behaviors of the people you are thankful for. Maybe your best friend always sends you birthday flowers or your partner makes you coffee before you get up each morning. Being thankful for the little things your family and friends do makes you appreciate them more, and improves your interactions with them. This shift in focus also helps train you to see the best in people, and the best in yourself, which makes you warmer, kinder, and better liked, because you are a better friend, spouse, sibling, etc.
- It speeds up your spiritual progress.
In my healing courses I often talk about the importance of service to others. It’s one of the best ways to increase your chances of an initiation by providing a solid base for the new energy. Gratitude makes you more compassionate and empathetic to others, which means you are more likely to engage in random acts of kindness and help others in need. Thinking of others also brings you out of thinking about yourself, which makes you happier and speeds up the process of processing old wounds and traumas, an essential part of energy medicine.
- Gratitude helps you live longer.
Grateful people are usually more optimistic, and optimism has been linked to longer life spans, greater immune function, and lowered blood pressure. Studies have shown that people who are grateful and optimistic are also more likely to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Being thankful for all the small things makes you feel inspired, which turns into a desire to take better care of yourself, which can add years to your life.
- Gratitude begets gratitude.
When you begin to notice all the little things there are to be grateful for each day: the unconditional love of a pet, your health, the sun in the sky, a thoughtful email from a friend, the smell of freshly brewed coffee—whatever small and large things make you smile—you begin to feel even more grateful to be alive and experiencing all this world has to offer. Your happiness makes you more appreciative, which makes you happier and kinder to others, which then rubs off and makes them grateful and happier. Gratitude is a win-win, a vital part of increasing the love on this planet.
Do you see how gratitude affects all areas of your life and builds on itself? Thankfulness is an upward spiral. Being grateful makes you happier, which makes you kinder and more compassionate, which means others respond to you with more compassion and kindness, which makes you even more grateful. As an energy healer and spiritual teacher who has seen the power of gratitude, I’d love for Thanksgiving to be a spring board for you to begin your daily routine of giving thanks. Try it for a year, and I guarantee that next Thanksgiving, gratitude is what you’ll be most thankful for.