Gratitude check-in: it’s the week of Thanksgiving in the US, and many people are stressed with preparations. If that’s you, are you harried or happy? Is November in general a happy month? It’s a very good thing when countries set aside a national holiday for feeling and expressing gratitude, but can that truly make people happy?
Giving thanks means being grateful. Gratitude is the mindset of being grateful, and it involves opening our perspective to notice things withing ourselves, in others, and in our lives for which we are glad. In taking moments every day to pause, notice the good, and be grateful for who and what is good, we actively change how we interpret our world. We begin to flourish.
What Good is Gratitude, Really?
Being grateful on purpose has benefits. Robert Emmons, a leading researcher and expert on gratitude, has discovered reasons why gratitude is good. It’s an important part of both mental and physical wellbeing, positively influencing how we interact with ourselves and others. Simply put, it lessens the effects of the bad on our minds and bodies and strengthens the effects of the good.
So, again, does that make November, the month of Thanksgiving, a happy month overall? November, after all, signals the onset of the cold months for many people. Branches become bare. The grass in some areas is brown. The holiday season, which begins this month and runs through the end of the year, is stressful for many people–often depressing, anxiety-provoking, or triggering. How can feeling thankful really do any good at all?
If gratitude is nothing but words expressed out of obligation, spoken on a dedicated day, it won’t have an impact on our wellbeing. However, when it becomes a state of mind and being, a way of thinking about ourselves, others, and our world, we reap benefits far beyond any Thanksgiving harvest.
Gratitude Can Be Difficult
Thankfulness doesn’t always come naturally. Our evolutionary history has hard-wired negativity into our brain. Humans tend to think negatively, to dwell on what is wrong. Sometimes expressing appreciation can make people feel vulnerable, as if doing so is an admission that we can’t do certain things for ourselves or that the good in our lives is there because of circumstances and people other than ourselves.
It’s okay that feeling and expressing gratitude can be difficult. Difficult, yes; impossible, no. We can practice shifting shift our thoughts to the positive, to look for ways in which to be grateful. This is a decision that you can take charge of and have control over. Choosing to shift your perspective can help you feel better mentally and physically.
Because to be fully beneficial, gratefulness must become part of our perspective and an intentional action, I offer ideas to help you cultivate it. Gratitude has more punch when it doesn’t feel like a burden; therefore, to make it playful, I’ve created a bingo game I call I’M GLAD! The Gratitude Game.
I’M GLAD! The Gratitude Game: How it Works
Download the free PDF of the game board (I’M GLAD Bingo). As you seek out and intentionally feel gratitude for the items on the board, mark the space, perhaps with a sticker or a drawing. As you complete rows, treat yourself to something you enjoy. When you have blackout, do something to show gratitude for yourself. Celebrate! Then create a new board or start over with this one. Gratitude is a never-ending process and a way of being rather than a one-time act.
When you choose a grateful outlook, you begin to create a sense of joy and tranquility, of happiness and a love of life. Practice gratitude to build your quality life and embrace the good even during the bad.