Even though we don’t do Thanksgiving here in Australia, I like to use the occasion to do a kind of gratitude stocktake.
While most of us have a vague understanding that gratitude can raise our mood and our life satisfaction levels, in practice we’re not so good at actually maximising this superpower. Most of us, it’s fair to say, have a tendency to ‘focus on the hole and not the doughnut’, if you know what I mean.
It’s not just our emotional health that benefits when we focus on gratitude, our physical health gets a boost too. Research by Professor Paul Mills from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that heart disease patients who kept a gratitude journal had reduced their risk of ongoing heart issues after two months. And similar studies have shown a reduction in stress hormones in those who focus on gratitude.
Thanksgiving seems like the opportune time to, you know, give thanks. Last night I sat down with a pink pen and a pretty notepad (related: I am grateful for cute stationery) and listed all the awesomnity in my life. It was fun and it helped me to see clearly how much I have to celebrate. Afterwards, I felt like life had given me a giant hug. My list included everything from my sister’s cute jokes to my long legs to having a warm, safe place to live to being the most contended I’ve ever been in my adult life.
When you write something down, you amplify that message. It’s the equivalent of speaking to the Universe through a loudspeaker. Writing down what you’re grateful for is saying very clearly: “I am in love with my life, and I’m ready for more blessings.”
I know that right now you do not have everything you want. (Me neither.) But what you do have is immensely valuable, and finding a way to take stock of that really helps you appreciate that value at a deep level.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says: “You were given life. It is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within it, no matter how slight.”
You are very, very lucky, and very, very loved. Happy Thanksgiving xx