Practicing gratitude is good habit. As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us are being intentional about being thankful and giving thanks for people and things in our lives. That’s good.
But gratitude practice is also a part of a trendy movement that encourages positivity practice. In today’s world of talking heads, click-bait headlines on social media or online news outlets, and non-stop “news” on 24-hour news networks, it often requires work to stay upbeat and positive. One way to ensure your outlook stays positive is to practice gratitude. According to Psychology Today, practicing gratitude means “paying attention to what we are thankful for to the degree of feeling more kind and compassionate toward the world at large”. I love this definition because it implies an external reason for being grateful, and many times we think of being grateful as an individual choice, benefiting only the one who practices it.
While gratitude is good for your personal health, it also improves the health of your environment because it helps you think of “the world at large” in a kinder and more compassionate way. This is exactly the type of community we are trying to foster here at the Y. We want to infuse kindness and compassion into our families, our friends and our communities. If we are not a grateful bunch, if we are not intentionally practicing gratitude, this will be impossible to do. The New Testament author, Paul, knew this. He wrote to the people living in Ephesus (a thriving, commercial port city in Asia Minor), “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”. (Ephesian 4:32) When we intentionally and consistently practice being grateful, we are better capable of doing this – of being kind and compassionate to our world at large, our family and our community.
What are you grateful for? Maybe you can even write it down tonight before bed in a cute little journal. Maybe you can have your kids do the same. And maybe you’ll recognize how it shifts your mindset and your mood and want to do it again tomorrow. And then the next day.
Gratitude is a habit that not only helps you personally, but will help your environment significantly. Here’s a graphic I found online that shows some personal physical and physiological benefits of gratitude. Just think if EVERYONE you knew practiced gratitude? How amazing of a community would that be?
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