“It is not happiness that brings us gratitude. It is gratitude that brings us happiness” -David Steindl-Rast.
Every year we have a day for giving thanks. This weekend was Canadian thanksgiving and being a Canadian, I celebrated with some friends. As the night closed, we shared what we were grateful for.
Sometimes the idea of Thanksgiving seems silly to me because why should we only have one day where we give thanks. There are other holidays where giving and gratitude is a big focus but why don’t we make an effort to make gratitude a part of our everyday lives. Maybe some of you do.
Maybe some of you think of the people and privileges you are thankful for, or maybe even think of the small things like someone holding the door open for you or the way the sunset looked that day. For those of you who don’t do this, it’s time to start giving thanks and being grateful every day.
I know our lives are very busy, but try to take time out of your day to write down three things you are grateful for from that day, or throughout the day make note of the things that made you smile or things that you wouldn’t usually think to be grateful for. And BE grateful for them.
As we struggle through our mid-terms, we might get not so good grades or get excellent grades, but whatever the outcome, let us be grateful for the fact that we are living in a safe community and get the opportunities to go to school and continue our education.
At times when you are stressed or it’s just not your day, stop for a minute and think of a few things you’re grateful for, the first things that come to your mind. You will be surprised how thinking about what you do have versus what you don’t have will alleviate a bit of that stress or at least make you feel like everything is going to be okay.
Gratitude has been proven to improve mental and physical wellness and build the compassionate and empathetic leaders this world needs. Neuroscientists have shown that gratitude can act as a natural antidepressant and be as impactful as medication.
When we make gratitude and thankfulness a daily practice instead of just focusing on it a few times a year during the holidays, we strengthen neural pathways and create permanent grateful and positive daily attitudes.
Studies have also shown that gratitude contributes to so many aspects of life and leads to positive outcomes such as: releasing toxic emotions, reducing pain, improving sleep quality, aiding in stress regulation, and reducing anxiety and depression.
Now, American thanksgiving is just over a month away, but don’t wait till then to say thank you to those around you or reflect on moments you are grateful for. Start now.
Start expressing your gratitude for things in your life and each day will get a little easier, be a little brighter, and little opportunities will come your way that build up to the bigger meaning of your life.
I will leave you with one more thought. You never know what little part of your day will turn into something bigger or will have greater meaning to another person that changes their life forever.
“Enjoy the little things. For one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault