Giving Thanks and Your Health

Giving Thanks and Your Health

Each year on Thanksgiving Day, people take the time to give thanks. Many families practice the tradition of listing their blessings one-by-one before feasting on turkey, gravy, and all the fixings. On this day of thankfulness, people are particularly mindful of their gifts, treasures, and relationships.

While Thanksgiving Day is a great reminder to be grateful for what we have, our family aims to practice gratitude regularly. Our exercises in gratefulness go like this:

We take turns saying three or more things that we are thankful for, recognizing that no response is too big or too small. When doing this, we try to keep things pretty informal, even adding a little humor when appropriate. This habit helps us to maintain our perspective, reject any sense of entitlement, and improve our overall health and well-being. Keep reading to find out more!

Giving Thanks Shifts Perspective

When you focus on the positive aspects of your life rather than fixating on negativity, it improves your overall outlook. In an article for Psychology Today, Emma Seppala Ph.D. explains how practicing gratitude reduces your materialism, boosts your happiness, and improves your connections with loved ones. She also notes that grateful people tend to be more helpful, kind, and ethical. Plus, according to science, your sunny disposition will actually rub off on others and make our world brighter!

Giving Thanks Combats the Sense of Entitlement

Many parents today are working to help their children develop a strong work ethic and an appreciative mindset. It can be challenging, but it is possible, even in our world of instant gratification and privileged attitudes. “Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have – rather than complain about all the things you think you deserve,“ says psychotherapist and author, Amy Morin, in a Forbes article. She suggests that gratitude enhances empathy, reduces aggression, and allows us to appreciate other people’s accomplishments. But gratefulness isn’t just about what we say; it is demonstrated by our actions. Giving back to the community is an excellent exercise in gratitude. According to a Psychology Today post by Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D. ABPP., community service helps keep us grounded.

Giving Thanks Improves Health

Many people cope with stress daily. Job responsibilities, family duties, and social obligations can become overwhelming if we let them. When I begin to feel negativity creep in, I flip it into a prayer of thankfulness. Here’s a simple prayer:

“Thank you, God, for my packed social calendar. It means my amazing friends want to hang out. Thank you for my household duties because it means my family will be home soon. Thank you for the ability to work, because it means I’m in my right mind. Thank you for my muscle pains because they mean I was able to exercise today. Amen.”

That technique always makes me feel more energized and positive. But, giving thanks doesn’t just improve your emotional well-being. It also can improve your physical health by reducing stress, according to the National Institutes of Health. A daily practice of gratitude is “linked to fewer signs of heart disease,” as revealed in a study.

Giving thanks helps shift your perspective, combat the sense of entitlement, and improve your overall health. With all the benefits associated with giving thanks, will you give daily exercises of gratitude a try? Leave a comment and join the discussion.

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