Thanksgiving Day is observed in the United States annually on the fourth Thursday in November. Today marks another of such days, and similar days are observed in several other countries worldwide. Beyond the aroma of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, and the many delicacies shared on this day between families and loved ones, it is a day for deep reflection on the many blessings of the year and one to express profound power of gratitude.
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all the other virtues.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Therefore you might have thought I picked out-of-place topics for Thanksgiving week if you listened to my interviews this week. On Tuesday, I talked with NYU Stern School of Business professor Scott Galloway about why America is Adrift. And today, I spoke to psychologist, author, and grief advocate Dr. Sherry Walling about the emotions that come from loss and the grieving process.
Both are about gratitude for what we have and often take for granted and hope for a more promising future. I picked these episodes intentionally because both had underlying themes of regeneration.
That is because as much as Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to giving appreciation, not everyone will feel they have something to be grateful for. The year might have been a really challenging one financially, and you might even be going through a predicament or lost a loved one. It’s expected that these things make you melancholy.
Therefore, hearing the good news shared by other friends and extended family members might even make it worse for you, turning a day meant to be of family and celebration into an unpleasant one for you.
But if you dive a bit deeper, we all have something to be grateful for, and if you practice the power of gratitude, come what may, you will be able to enjoy its many benefits and have hope for a brighter future.
Why the power of gratitude is regenerative
You might wonder what the word ‘regeneration’ has to do with the power of gratitude.
The term regeneration means restoring or renewing something, especially after it has been damaged or lost. Regeneration is living intentionally and placing that intention at the center of every choice we make and action we take. It is a word that connotes healing, newness, and wholeness.
Regeneration brings us hope for the future and gratitude for the present.
Regeneration results in our mind’s illumination, our heart’s opening, and our intention to be better and live better.
Consider this when you express gratitude. Think of anything in your life for which you are grateful. This could be the driver who allowed you to proceed when you realized you were in the wrong lane. Or the glory of a beautiful sunset. The taste and experience of yesterday’s Thanksgiving Day or qualities you admire in yourself.
Why should we express the power of gratitude?
As humans, our evolutionary development has wired our brains to pay more attention to the negative because we need it to quickly sense the many dangers in our fight for survival. But it is essential that we consciously train our brains to see the silver lining in the dark clouds and appreciate the beautiful gift of life we have been given.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward.
Living each day with an attitude of gratitude offers so many benefits to our lives, including the following:
The power of gratitude helps us live happier and healthier lives
The interesting thing about the human mind is that it can’t hold two emotions simultaneously. So, you can’t be feeling grateful and at the same time feeling sad. Thus, when you are constantly grateful, the associated emotion of happiness is what you will feel, ultimately leading to a more joyful life.
Several studies have discovered that those who are consciously grateful for the things they have, tend to live happier lives. Likewise, a 2020 study proved that regular practice of gratitude can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The power of gratitude strengthens our relationships.
There’s a popular saying: “It’s hard to be hateful when you’re grateful.” When you are grateful, you can appreciate the good in your life and others. Naturally, no one wants to be around someone who is constantly complaining about things. We like optimism and the positive emotions that gratitude elicits.
So, gratitude makes you someone others want to spend time with, bringing joy, hope, and positivity into your relationships, thereby making them stronger.
The power of gratitude boosts our immune systems.
Have you noticed that when you’re sad, your stomach churns, you may have a headache, and you are more susceptible to illness? This is because our thoughts have a direct influence on our physical bodies and our overall health. So, when you are constantly grateful, your mind will influence your immune system to be in better form to fight off illness. According to a 2004 research review and a 2017 study, this has been scientifically proven.
The power of gratitude helps us receive more.
Opray Winfrey said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
The power of gratitude puts you in a better position to receive the things you hope for while making the most of what you currently have. This is because you naturally attract more of what you spend time focusing on. So, if you focus on your problems, you might get more negativities, while if you instead focus on the blessings in your life, you will be more inclined towards attracting more of the positive things you celebrate and desire.
As Eckhart Tolle said, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
And all the other great benefits you can imagine…
Why the power of gratitude is tied to your perception
Understanding how powerful the force of gratitude is and how beneficial it can be to your life, what can you do to become more grateful?
Maintaining a positive perspective is the key to becoming a person of gratitude through every phase of life.
If you look up the word “how can I become a more grateful person,” you will find many answers from several blogs. These answers include:
- Start a gratitude journal, get a gratitude rock, have a gratitude jar/box, plant a gratitude tree, etc.
- Reflect and meditate on the good things in your life
- Use a gratitude app to remind you to be grateful
- And so on.
And yes, these are all essential things to do, to constantly practice gratitude. But they are action points to follow, and all connect back to having the perspective that will enable you to stay grateful all through the phases of your life. In a previous episode on changing your perception, I discussed how our views shape our lives and better our realities.
If life were all sweet and rosy, and the world was free of illness, poverty, wars, death, and negativity, we wouldn’t need to encourage ourselves or anyone to be grateful. Happiness and joy will be our default state, and being grateful will be the only natural thing to do.
But this is not the case, which is why we need to maintain a positive perspective daily.
Gratitude & hope for a regenerative future
Ideally, Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t be a one-day in a year event but one that we should celebrate every day — for each day brings regenerative new hope for a better life, and we should never take that for granted.
Even though things don’t always go how we want them to, we need to keep hope alive that each new day brings an opportunity for healing, love, kindness, peace, and the good things we desire.
We have to trust that beyond our current circumstances, there is a higher power beyond us who can strengthen and fill us with hope for better days.
When we look at nature around us; the sky, birds, oceans, mountains, beaches, forests, and every form of nature, we should view them through the lens of wonder and appreciation and be reminded of this higher power behind their creation — and ours.
The powe of gratitude does not imply you pretend or deny the existence of your hardship and suffering. We all want good things, and it’s normal to feel hurt when certain things trouble you. But gratitude is acknowledging all the good stuff you have, no matter how little it may seem.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie
Always remember you have something to be grateful for in your past, present, or future that will significantly contribute to the success of your journey to becoming a person of gratitude.
And the more you relish your life, friends, family, and mother earth, the more you find that the daily practice of the power of gratitude is regenerative.
Where to Go From Here
I hope you found this short guide on the power of gratitude useful. If you’re looking for more ideas on getting motivated and staying that way, check out the Passion Struck podcast and my episodes with behavior scientists Ayelet Fishbach, Katy Milkman, Astronaut Wendy Lawrence, NASCAR driver Jesse Iwuji, and Vice Admiral Sandy Stosz along with my over 80 solo episodes.