Nurturing a Spirit of Gratitude

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others." -- Cicero

Dear Friends,

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m reminded of the power and benefits of gratitude. Gratitude comes from the Latin word gratus, which means "thankful or pleasing." It is the quality of being thankful or the readiness to express appreciation.

Why Gratitude is So Powerful

In positive psychology, gratitude is associated with greater happiness. Gratitude fosters positive feelings, emotions, and experiences; improves overall physical, mental, and emotional health; helps us to deal more effectively with adversity; and helps build strong relationships. Gratitude cannot be demanded, coerced, or requested. Gratitude is not an exchange; it can only be given as a gift.

Gratitude has many other benefits including, but not limited to increased self-esteem, improved relationships, stress reduction, increased resilience, improved sleep quality, increased compassion, and an enhanced ability to motivate and guide others.

8 Ways to Nurture Gratitude

To find one simple thing to be grateful for and writing it down can change the trajectory of your life, because in appreciating what we already have opens the door to greater abundance. You can tap into this single most powerful source of inspiration just by acknowledging and being grateful for the miracle of life. Here are additional ways to nurture gratitude:  

  1. Remember how far you’ve come. Consider the ways that you have matured and overcome life’s obstacles.  
  1. Start a gratitude journal. Affirm the good things in your life by recording them in a gratitude journal.  
  1. Engage in self-inquiry. Meditate on your attitudes and behaviors. Ask yourself, “What am I grateful for today and why?” “How have I fostered kindness?” “How have I expressed empathy?” “How have I shared my gratitude with others?” 
  1. Model gratitude by being authentic. Being true to yourself means having the courage to define your own version of a successful life. When you focus on authentic gratitude, you connect with your core values and the meaningful aspects of life, which in turn inspires connection with others.  
  1. Be mindful of consumerism and materialism. Materialistic people believe that valuing, buying, and owning things are the primary means to life fulfillment and happiness. In their relentless quest to acquire more, they diminish the real meaning of life. However, when you’re grateful for what you already have, your abundance expands.  
  1. Practice random acts of kindness. The philosophy behind random acts of kindness is altruism, which is a self-less concern for the welfare of others. Practicing random acts of kindness is one way to spread generosity of spirit for no special reason other than just because—at home, at work, at school, in the community, in the marketplace, or on the highway. By doing something random and kind in someone else’s life, you can literally help change the world for the better!!  
  1. Be mindful of your self-talk. Self-talk is internal dialogue influenced by our subconscious mind and is the source for our moods and emotions. Self-talk reveals our values, beliefs, thoughts, ideologies, attitudes, assumptions, and informs our ideas. Self-talk can be positive or negative, encouraging or distressing. Positive self-talk can increase self-esteem, boost self-confidence, help manage stress, and improve your overall health and well-being. If you want to nurture a spirit of gratitude, begin practicing positive self-talk.  
  1. Volunteer. Volunteering enables us to help others in a self-less way. When we help others and support philanthropic causes we connect with others and provide a positive impact on our communities. Volunteering is known to build self-esteem, increase self-confidence and self-efficacy, increase interpersonal skills, establish new contacts, and promote a sense of fulfillment and happiness. Volunteering can also help you stay abreast of current events, uncover stimulating challenges, discover a new career path, or find a new job. There are many ways you can volunteer. Tap into resources such as the Internet, local library, business relationships, professional organizations, and word of mouth to find out how you can become active in your community.

Practicing gratitude is therapeutic, free, requires little to no physical effort, and is available to everyone. Take charge of your health and life today by becoming a more thankful person and helping to win a victory for all of humanity.

Until Next Time,

Dr. Mary

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