November 22, 2021
Gratitude means so much more in today’s world
by Mona Jauhar RDN, LD
The recent pandemic has been a teacher and an eye-opener in many ways. The way we look at our families, finances, our sense of freedom and our foreseeable future is how it has been shaped by this universal crisis. It has given us enough time to sit and reflect and restructure our lives; to weigh ‘needs’ over ‘wants’ and ‘less’ over ‘more’.
It has given all of us enough fodder for introspection and tools for self-care… the most important being – if you ask me -- the Art of Gratitude. Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships. Earlier this year, a study found that keeping a gratitude journal decreased materialism and bolstered generosity among adolescents.
Scholars, spiritual leaders, and scientists throughout history have deliberated on gratitude. Is it the same as being thankful? No, it only begins there. Small joys and freedoms that we took so much for granted suddenly seem like the greatest gifts in post-COVID era. Today, if you ask me, I am grateful for being alive, healthy and near my loved ones. I am grateful for the outdoors, the sunshine and the blue skies. I have a newfound respect for nature and the joy it brings us.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, we must soak in this renewed spirit of gratitude and be thankful for the good food, good health and good people in our lives. Embrace your own gratitude practice today, to feel the beneficial effects in many areas of your life. Gratitude isn’t just some cultural trend. It is now a full-fledged topic of scientific research. According to the John Templeton Foundation, there have been at least 270 studies on gratitude in the past two decades. Having a grateful outlook makes people calmer and happier, raises self-esteem, strengthens marriages, increases productivity, prompts greater generosity, and triggers better self-care—we eat more healthily, exercise more, drink less.
Here are 5 ways you could practice gratitude daily:
1. Gratitude Journal A great way to start a habit of gratitude is to regularly write down three to five things you’re thankful for. Writing down your blessings before bed can reduce stress and help you fall asleep because you have switched gears to thinking about good things.
2. Gratitude Letter Has someone done something nice that made a big difference in your life? If you’ve never properly thanked that person, consider writing a gratitude letter and let them know how much they mean to you.
3. Find gratitude in your challenges Gratitude is not only about being thankful for positive experiences. In fact, sometimes thinking about negative or difficult situations can help to really nail down what you have to be thankful for.
4. Give back to the community For many people, the key to having more gratitude is to give back to others in their community. Not only will it make you more grateful for the things that you may take for granted, but studies have shown that volunteering for the purpose of helping others increases our own well-being, and thus our ability to have more gratitude.
5. Practice mindfulness Sit down daily and think through five to ten things you are grateful for. The trick is that you need to picture it in your mind and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body.