“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others” — Cicero
It’s easy to get so caught up in planning Thanksgiving that we forget that the essence of this holiday is quite straightforward: to give thanks. Gratitude improve both your happiness and health, which, the Mayo Clinic reports, leads to a higher quality of life. Why not begin your gratitude practice on the most appropriate day of the year?
Happiness and Gratitude
Researchers in positive psychology have found that gratitude plays an important role in our happiness, optimism, and health. Dr. Robert Emmons explains that this is a result of gratitude requiring “self-reflection, the ability to admit that one is dependent upon the help of others, and the humility to realize one’s own limitations.” Understanding that we’re not responsible for all the positives in our lives makes us more grateful for everything and everyone who supports us.
At the University of California, Emmons has conducted several studies that reveal the link between gratitude and happiness. The research shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal (one example of a way of practicing gratitude) has a major positive impact on both your mental and physical health.
There are several simple and effective ways to incorporate gratitude into your life. Here are our favorites, and all proven to to improve happiness levels.
Whether you write in it every week or every day, Emmons has proven that noting down details of your life that you’re grateful for improves happiness, decreases stress, and leads to better physical health.
If you’re grateful for someone’s support, actions, or love, make sure you tell them so. A study published in the Journal of School Psychology showed that vocally expressing gratitude improves life satisfaction.
Thank You Letter
Dr Martin Seligman — often credited with being the founder of positive psychology — encourages us to write a thank you letter to someone for whom we’re grateful, and to deliver it in person. Putting pen to paper to write a letter may seem old-fashioned, but it’s that personal connection that boosts happiness.
Researchers at the University of Virginia found that mentally subtracting something important from our lives can lead to a more grateful mindset, e.g., “Suppose I did not have this great friend, then “blank””. If you feel down, take a moment to consider your life without someone or something which you love, and watch how your negative emotions soon become positive.
How We Give Gratitude
At Splendid Spoon we practice a simple gratitude exercise every week, and we encourage you to incorporate it into your own life, starting at your Thanksgiving table.
We end our once-weekly team meetings with a round of “I like… I wish… I wonder…”. Completing each of these statements enables us to reflect on what we’re grateful for, set a positive intention for the future, and project our concerns and hopes. This basic ritual of expressing gratitude makes us feel heard, supported, and optimistic.
A Grateful Grace for Thanksgiving
Our friend Michael from Edible Spirit came to cook with us this week. He shared a beautiful grace, which we hope you can incorporate into your Thanksgiving meal. There’s no better time to start your practice of gratitude than over this thanks-focused holiday:
“Strengthen and energize, strengthen and energize. May this food be strengthened and energized. May the hands, hearts, and heads of those that grew it and prepared it be strengthened and energized. May the molecules of this meal vibrate higher and faster with love and strength and energy, so that I may be nourished and strengthened and energized, so that I may contribute to the peace, happiness, and freedom of all beings everywhere.”
Have a beautiful holiday!