With November coming to an end, it’s safe to say the overwhelming feeling of high expectations has officially begun. Undoubtedly, the holiday season is the most fabulous time of the year, even though my house becomes Stress Station. If I’m honest, with all the stress blending in with the cinnamon-scented wintry air, it becomes too difficult being appreciative.
Now, if you open any book about changing your life or listen to any podcasts, they’re all going to tell you the same thing. Being grateful has been scientifically proven to improve your health, your well-being, and even your success rate.
Two psychologists from the University of Miami conducted a study on gratitude where they asked participants to write down a few sentences each week, not specifying to be positive or negative. Over the span of ten weeks, the participants who penned about gratitude “were more optimistic and felt better about their lives.” Read more about the study here.
The simple act of showing gratitude can have a life-changing impact on your daily life.
What better time to be grateful than now with Thanksgiving right around the corner? I don’t know how other people celebrate Thanksgiving, but in our household, it is mandatory to stand around the table and declare out loud why you’re grateful. There are always objections from the younger children, but we’re not hesitant to remind them of the benefits of showing gratitude, so everyone takes a turn.
In her article, Dr. Amy Morin lists seven scientifically-proven benefits of being grateful. The two that stuck out to me the most were better sleep (cause God knows I need it) and the enhancement of empathy (something we all need more of). But is it just saying you’re grateful, and your life is set for the best?
Of course not, but science doesn’t lie. The only problem is we’ve become accustomed not to show gratification enough unless it’s Thanksgiving day. You’re kind of in the spotlight at that moment and feel obligated to say anything. Which- in a way- feels like we’re taking everything for granted.
Now, let me ask you this: when you look forward to Thanksgiving, what exactly are you looking forward to doing?
The food, right? We’ve entirely wiped out the backstory to this holiday, and truthfully, it feels like this is the one day where we can declare thanks.
I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. We live in an era where everything is available at the tips of our fingers. Technology advancement is continuously on the rise, and if you haven’t heard, technology is slowly, but surely, destroying empathy (Live Science).
There is hope, and things can change, but it always starts within you. If you’re having a difficult time showing gratitude, always remember it is the smallest action that will make the most significant differences.
Have you noticed how every life mentor always recommends you write everything down and be strangely specific? That includes your goals, your feelings, your appreciation. This is because it’s been proven to help you better your life.
Now that we’ve talked about why being grateful is literally a lifesaver. Here are a couple of things to be thankful for that you probably didn’t think of.
Bet you didn’t think of this one, huh? According to Mashable, 1.2 billion people have little or no access to electricity. Unless your electricity bill is past due, then you have access to electricity 24/7. You can charge your phone anytime, take a hot shower whenever you want, turn on the house lights, watch TV, use kitchen appliances. Sixteen percent of the world doesn’t have that! You never think you have to be thankful for electricity, but in reality, we do.
When I was in college, I volunteered with UNRWA and worked a summer in the Gaza Strip. If you’re unfamiliar with the place, it’s a small occupied territory within Palestine. According to UNICEF, “In Gaza, there is an acute water crisis. Over 90 percent of households have a tap where clean water once flowed, but today the water is no longer safe to drink. In the last 15 years, the situation in Gaza has gone from bad to worse: only one in 10 households now have direct access to safe water.”
It’s sad to think that something as necessary as water is not available to these people. Next time you have a drink of water, be grateful that it’s that easily accessible to you.
It took my uncle thirty years to receive his green card. Thirty years. That’s thirty years of not seeing his family, thirty years staying in the same state, thirty years of video calling his mother. He had no control over the places he wished to go. He missed both parents’ deaths, a brother’s illness, weddings, births, and so much more. Coming from a third world country, his passport held no power whatsoever, and for that, he felt like he was utterly trapped.
For many passport holders, booking a flight takes minutes. Minutes. Not everyone has that privilege, and it is something I am incredibly thankful for every single day.
Being grateful isn’t a chore, it’s not a job, and it doesn’t require much energy. It’s like William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” So don’t hold back! Happy Thanksgiving!