As you stop and reflect on all the things you have to be thankful for this week, have you ever thought how that makes you feel? According to our friends at The Greater Good Science Center, people who express gratitude to others can often improve their own mental health.
In their article on how gratitude changes you and your brain, they observe that “many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.” Here’s what these studies have found:
Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions.
Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it.
Gratitude’s benefits take time.
Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain.
And, when you think about it, there are many things to be thankful for that often don’t get noticed when we go through the typical exercise of “counting our blessings.” For example, I’m grateful for PAIN. Seems strange, right? But I realize that life’s most painful moments have also brought some of my greatest growth opportunities. These include closer relationships, more connected families, deeper faith, stronger coping, less judging, greater compassion, improved (real) listening and more complete understanding.
I’m thankful for pain, just like I’m thankful for the rain. Without the rain there would be no rainbows, no waterfalls, no growth in our gardens … no life at all.
I celebrate my messy, imperfect, sometimes dark and dreary pain. For each of these moments afford me the opportunity to be a better version of myself.
So do yourself a favor this Thanksgiving and take a moment to really appreciate all those people and things in your life that you may not have fully appreciated before … but that nonetheless have contributed to your growth.
And remember, November 27 is #GivingTuesday. If you would like to support our efforts to care for those who care for others, please visit our website.
Founder and Executive Director