In my book, Prayers for Those Standing on the Edge of Greatness, I say that “[p]raise and gratitude are important parts of the process of loving; their light opens our hearts and melts our defenses. Whatever we give thanks for, multiplies and gives way to more good . . . . If we are alive and breathing, we have something to praise and give thanks for.” Gratefully, we have a holiday that reminds us to be thankful.
But sometimes in the midst of all of the preparations and traveling, we forget the importance of gratitude. Giving thanks is powerful for the person that we thank but also for ourselves. Through gratitude, we center in the love of giving and through that energy align with the synergy of absolute good.
Giving thanks aligns us with the flow of calm, peace and thus less stress and better health. The science supports that the more grateful we are, the better our physical health. (See The Science of Gratitude, Greater Good Science Center, 2018)
Our hearts work better when we are more grateful. We sleep better. We are not as tired. We are less swollen. We even heal quicker. Our emotional well-being improves. (See 28 Benefits of Gratitude, Positive Psychology.com, 2019)
Gratitude reduces a number of toxic emotions, like jealousy, resentment, frustration, regret, loneliness, and even depression. Being grateful makes us healthier and happier. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, says that a daily practice of gratitude, like keeping a gratitude journal, boosters our immune system, reduces aches and pains, lowers our blood pressure, increases our exercise regime, results in higher levels of positive emotions, makes us more alert, alive, and awake, gives us more joy and pleasure, results in more optimism and happiness, helps us be more generous, compassionate, and forgiving.
(See Emmons, Why Gratitude is Good, 2010)
I’m not a scientist, but just based on a quick Google search, the science supports that we live longer when we are grateful.
At minimum, we live better. We are more empathetic. We have greater emotional intelligence. We suffer less from depression, substance abuse and even PTSD. We are more resilient. Our health and well-being are improved.
What can we do today, other than eat with reckless abandon and get stressed out visiting relatives that we should have been visiting throughout the year?
We can tell them how grateful we are for them in particular and life in general.
We can move forward by developing a practice of writing letters of gratitude each week.
We can begin to keep a gratitude journal, which only requires us to jot down a few grateful sentiments before going to sleep.
We can thank our family and friends for the little things: the lunch that we shared; the great job that they did on a project; the joy that they bring to our lives each day; the talk that you simply listened to; the changes that you’ve witnessed, no matter how small.
Most of all, this Thanksgiving, we can cultivate new habits that encourage community-building, problem-solving and healthy habits by giving thanks and opening our hearts to give to one another.
This is the first time in years that I cooked for Thanksgiving, not because I was pressured to do so but because that really is my way of saying thanks to my husband and mother-in-law for all that they have done through the nearly 20 years that I have known them.
This is my way of giving thanks to you.
I wish you the best of health, love, light, and wisdom as we travel the path together. I am here because of you, and you are here because of me. In the divine connection, in which we are one, my heart and your heart really are very old friends.
Much love and many blessings,