The Importance of Gratitude
“The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.” Michael Josephson
Living in the Western world comes with its fair share of freedom, but it also brings great stressors. Often, we lose sight of the gifts of our freedom and instead focus on our bills, our increasing workload, or all the things we have to do before we can take a break for the holidays. When it comes to Thanksgiving, we want to do nothing but eat and rest. In doing so, have we lost sight of the meaning of this holiday?
Thanksgiving is meant to be a time to pause and express gratitude, and was originally intended to commemorate the harvest of the preceding year. Whether you’re religious or not, this is typically a nationally observed holiday. Most families take the opportunity to come together to celebrate over a traditional Thanksgiving meal that often includes turkey. Even if you are just looking forward to the meal and a day off from work or studying, you might be surprised to find that taking a moment to express gratitude can actually enhance your life.
The benefits of expressing gratitude
Putting aside your stress and overwhelm, and instead showing some thankfulness, can have significant improvements to your physical and psychological health and well-being, and your relationships. Gratitude is scientifically proven to:
- Reduce depression
- Improve sleep
- Strengthen your immune system
- Reduce stress levels and better cope with life’s challenges
- Decrease blood pressure
- Increase energy levels
- Improve productivity
- Increase feelings of happiness and wellbeing
- Reduce negative emotions like envy and resentment
- Improve self-esteem
- Improve job performance
- Increase positive emotions like love and empathy
- Open the door to more relationships
- Improves physical health
- Increases mental strength and resilience
So taking a moment to change your perspective is worth your while. But how exactly do you develop the skill of showing gratitude?
How to express gratitude
This skill can take time to develop, especially when we’re focused on comparing ourselves to our peers, seeking out the next material possession, or thinking about what is wrong with our lives. But being thankful is easy once you start. Here are a few tips to show others your gratitude:
- Send a random text to a friend or family member who has been having a tough time. Tell them how grateful you are that they’re in your life and offer your help to ease whatever is burdening them right now.
- Call your mom — or whoever is preparing the Thanksgiving meal — and ask if you can show up early to help.
- Consider thanking a teacher. Whether you’re in school or working, take a moment to consider a teacher who had a positive impact on your life. Send them a note expressing your thanks.
- Share something you are thankful for on social media, either in a private group or among your friends.
- Offer your time to a local nonprofit to give back to those less fortunate.
- If you’re in recovery, text a friend you haven’t heard from for a while to ask how they are. Or consider taking some healthy snacks to a meeting.
- Thank your boss. Tell them that you appreciate how hard it must be to manage a team and meet your organization’s objectives.
- Consider offering your time to organizing the work holiday party.
- Ask your co-workers or fellow students if there is anything they are struggling with, and if you can help.
- Take a moment to thank someone who works in a position of service: a police officer, nurse, doctor, or paramedic. Why not give them a gift card to a local coffee shop, or just say hello and thank you if you encounter them?
Showing gratitude isn’t difficult — it takes just a moment of our time, but it can make a world of difference to someone to let them know that they are appreciated.
The Ammon Foundation believes that when individuals are holistically and strategically supported to build purposeful lives, the likelihood of them maintaining their recovery substantially increases. We provide this support via our two core programs – Ammon Recovery Scholars Program and Ammon Empowerment Workshop Program. To find out more about our programs, or to apply for an educational scholarship, please click here.