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Practicing Gratitude

In recent years, the real meaning of Thanksgiving has been overshadowed by feasting, football, and bargain hunting.  This week, it’s important to reflect on what Thanksgiving is really about: giving thanks. The act of giving thanks is defined as gratitude.  In order to practice gratitude, we must take a step back and look at the positive things in our lives.

Robert Emmons, a Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, explains that gratitude has two key components: “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. Second, we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

It’s easy to practice gratitude when life is going smoothly, but it’s important to remember that our Thanksgiving holiday was born out of tough times.  Even in the midst of difficulties and disappointments, make your best effort to see the good in your life.

What do you treasure most? Who has helped you through your darkest times? Through the ups and downs of life, what lessons are you grateful you have learned?

Practicing gratitude in our lives is a choice, and the benefits of choosing gratitude are endless. Even by simply appreciating the small things in life, you will find yourself more successful, healthier, and truly happier. Studies show that grateful people have higher incomes, lower blood pressure, and are more liked by others.

Thanksgiving is a time that reminds us of what we are thankful for, but it should not be the only day of the year we practice gratitude. This week, make a vow to think daily of the things that you are thankful for, and see how your life transforms.