November has always been one of my favorite months.
The leaves and the temperature act with the season, as Fall is in full swing. There are usually a handful of sunny days here in Minnesota (if we are lucky), for each of which we are beyond grateful. In the United States on the fourth Thursday of every November we celebrate Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday (and it's not just because of the pumpkin pie!). Though it is especially condoned to contemplate and express gratitude on Thanksgiving, giving thanks is something that can benefit us every day.
A study conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons (a pioneer and world renowned expert on gratitude) and Dr. Michael E. McCullough (2003) found that individuals who wrote about things they were grateful for rather than things that irritated them had increased well-being across several categories, most notably positive outlook. In fact, the group that wrote about things they were grateful for experienced significantly less physical symptoms of illness than their counterparts who wrote about irritations. This makes me extra grateful for my immune system!
Expressing gratitude is something Dr. Mel and I do each morning at Inspire Life. We ask each other what we a grateful for and the answers always vary. Many days I say, "I am thankful that I woke up this morning." This is not only an expression of gratitude, but a practice in mindfulness, as each day is a gift and should never be taken for granted. That said, there are many ways to express gratitude for a multitude of people and things. Following are three of the ways I express gratitude with three examples of each:
Expressing gratitude to others:
· Say thank you to the barista who makes your coffee in the morning
· Write and send a thank you card to a former educator or mentor
· Express love for your spouse for being by your side through thick and thin
Expressing gratitude to yourself:
· Count your blessings and give thanks to all the GOOD things in your life
· Give yourself a great big hug by laying on the ground, wrapping your arms around your knees, and pulling your legs in to your chest
· Meditate and be thankful for the moment you are presently in without judgement.
Expressing gratitude for the Earth and it's gifts:
· Take a walk in the woods without your phone and notice the sights and sounds of nature
· Before a meal, think how the food you are about to eat arrived on the plate and be thankful it is there
· Practice your spirituality by praying or performing mantras
For more insight on gratitude, check this article from Harvard Health Publishing:
Before you go there is one final thing I am grateful for that I need to share with you. I am honored that you took the time to read this article and I am beholden if you do me the favor of expressing gratitude to anyone and everything you come to pass. Congruently, remember that you have a gift many others (including myself) are thankful for, and together we can share our gifts to strengthen and heal our community.
Many thanks (and keep inspiring!),
Michael, Inspire Life Community Wellness Leader