As we recognize Thanksgiving, it is appropriate to take stock in all that we should be grateful for. It could be the amazing and supportive people we are surrounded by every day or the positive events we experience whether as a result of our own efforts or maybe for no explainable reason at all. Even if you find yourself in challenging circumstances or surrounded by people who are less than supportive, there is still cause for gratitude. You may just have to dig a little deeper or search a bit harder, but it is there.
If you are challenged by a work environment that you feel takes you for granted, take the time to share with those around you how grateful you are to have them in your life, even if for no other reason than they motivate you to pursue other exciting career opportunities. If you have had a rough financial year, be grateful that you have weathered the storm this far and use that challenge to look at things differently and possibly re-align some priorities. Maybe you have even lost a loved one recently and question what there is to be grateful for. Be grateful that they were in your life and cherish the memories you made together. Also, take this experience of loss to be even more grateful for those still here and never take a moment for granted.
To fully realize the potential that gratitude has in improving our mental well being there are two components which are essential. The first is the ability to see the good through the negative, or for that matter to see the good in the good. We have to literally train ourselves to be mindful of the miracles that surround us each and every day. The second is to share that sense of gratitude with those around us. If you are grateful for that amazing spouse, friend or family member, make sure to tell them. They may be struggling with a sense of being taken for granted and a simple gesture of appreciation could change their whole perspective. Maybe you are surrounded by people who are always looking for the bad in any given event. Break away from that mindset and be the person who can always find the good in the moment. Just as negativity can be contagious, so too can gratitude catch on and over time change your immediate surroundings.
As amazing as Gratitude is on its own, it’s only the beginning. A natural product of Gratitude is Optimism, and Optimism is in fact a mental wellbeing powerhouse! A person’s ability to create, sustain and channel Optimism is scientifically proven to benefit everything from our immune system to our quality of sleep. It gives us the ability to endure the challenges in our life, and come away from traumatic events with our spirit intact. When shared it can change societies, and conquer oppression. It is the common characteristic of most great leaders throughout history, and has changed the course of human events on more than one occasion.
So this Thanksgiving, during all of your gatherings and visits, make sure to take the time to share what and who you are grateful for in your life, and hold onto that gratitude for the other 364 days of year. Along the way, you may find yourself appreciating the little things that so many miss!