As we begin to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and family, this becomes a time to pause and reflect on what it means to give thanks. As the year starts to wrap up and we turn our eyes towards the new year and decade, it's easy to forget to reflect on the aspects of our lives and work where gratitude is due.
Showing gratitude is more than giving thanks. It turns out that gratitude is much more than a 'thank you' - it's about perspective and mindset. Learning to appreciate things and people in your lives is the core practice to bring positive changes to your life.
Here are 9 things about gratitude to remember and start practicing.
1. Gratitude is about a shift in seeing
To give thanks is a mindset shift in how you see things, people, and events in our lives. We transform challenges into blessings. By shifting our mindset, we also shift the situation. It widens our perspective and helps us approach life's challenges with more grace and resiliency.
2. Life gives more of the same
The world is complex and many aspects of our times feel like a black hole of complaints. To complain is both disempowering to ourselves and others. It takes our energy away and dissipates it. Acknowledge the truth of a complex situation, but strive to find its blessing, albeit small, and follow that thread.
When we are grateful for what we have, our life will give us more of the same – more things to be grateful. But the more we complain, then life will deliver us the same situations. It's best to exercise our ability to widen our perspective and thus open ourselves to the positive changes that life can send our way.
3. Stimulate other parts of our brain
Giving thanks stimulates parts of our brain that are connected to joy, love, and pleasure. Our neural pathways are malleable, and what we think and do allows it to create new pathways. Exercising our gratitude awakens parts of our brain that help us continue to practice happiness gratefulness.
It stimulates the production of oxytocin – our bonding hormone. It helps us be more empathic. It promotes trust and positive communication. All elements that our world is in sore need.
4. Acknowledge what makes your life possible
Giving thanks and showing gratitude is about not taking things for granted, even the smallest and simplest things about our lives. The fact that we have a home, running water, food to eat, and agency in our lives are not to be dismissed.
It's easy to take for granted that when we turn on the switch, the light comes on. But it's these things that make much of our lives possible and more comfortable in this day and age. To be thankful for all the things we already have weaves a web of resiliency in our lives.
5. Gratitude is about presence
To express gratitude is about showing that we value what we already have. It helps us focus on the present moment and not get lost in the past or the future. Our culture is hugely future-oriented, and it's easy for all of us to fail in being fully present in the now and be thankful for what we currently own.
However, gratitude helps us feel more present and connected to what is here and now. It helps us clear the past and honor the present, thus preparing for what the future may bring.
6. Belonging is connected to gratitude
Gratitude helps us feel that we belong. First, by helping us acknowledge what we already have and being more present in the now. It also helps us see that we are part of a whole of the life of this world. When we practice gratitude, we become more aware of the part of the thread and fabric of things that are ours to tend.
7. Bring harmony between positive and negative
It helps us balance out the positive and the negative in our lives. Negative things continuously bombard us, and by paying attention even to the smallest of positive things in our lives, we are building resilience to life's inevitable pendulum's swing between good and bad.
We take care of our physical body's equilibrium through proper diet and hydration. Yet we take must remember to take care of our mental body by giving thanks, as a way of bringing harmony between the positive and negative aspects that makes our lives possible.
8. Create your gratitude practice
Start with the little things in your life. Make a list of three things you are grateful for and say why. Writing out the ‘why’ of your gratitude is the secret sauce for this practice. It's in the 'why' that we can start shifting our mindset about a situation or person in our lives. But don't just practice gratefulness during the holiday season, find time in your every day life to make a physical or even mental list of the things that you're grateful for.
9. Pay it forward
Use this holiday to get started. Send a thank you to someone you have meant to do, but you haven't yet. Keep it simple, but don't forget the why of your 'thank you.' Make this a constant practice in your life and see how it will ripple through your life with positive shifts.
As for us here at T-Scan, we are grateful for you – our clients and our team of employees that make it all possible.
One of our tenets of the why of our business is building long-lasting partnerships, and showing gratitude is one of the many ways in which we tend to these relationships. That's the T-Scan way.