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Why You Need to Flex Your Gratitude Muscle – All Year Long

grat-i-tude [grat-i-tood] noun The quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. 

Flex your gratitude muscle

The last bowls of turkey soup (the best thing about leftover Thanksgiving turkey) have been served here in Canada, but the biggest holiday of the year is almost here for our friends in the US. With Thanksgiving, both in Canada and in the United States, there comes a heightened sense of gratitude. A keen sense of nostalgia and recognition for all that is good in our life.

At our house, during dessert at Thanksgiving, we go around the table –each of us sharing what we are thankful for. Guests always mention how good it feels to share what they are grateful for, and to hear what others give thanks for.

It’s such a simple thing, really, to stop and think about the things, and the people who bring us joy. But when was the last time you took a moment out of your (regular) day and acknowledged what you are truly thankful for?

Why Gratitude?

There is a plethora of information touting the benefits of cultivating gratitude on a daily basis. Just plug “benefits of gratitude” into Google and you’ll see a slew of results pop up on the health benefits – both mental and physical.

  1. Grateful people take better care of themselves.

  2. Gratitude helps us better manage stress.

  3. Gratitude can boost our well-being and give us a brighter outlook on life.

  4. Grateful people tend to be more optimistic; a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system.

  5. Gratitude helps you sleep. Researchers in this study found that people who spent 15 minutes writing down what they are grateful for before they went to sleep, fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.

  6. Gratitude can strengthen relationships—both personal and professional. Taking time to acknowledge a person will not only make their day, but acts of gratitude boost your mood too!

  7. Gratitude improves emotional and physical health.

Let’s face it – life is busy. Time whizzes by and before you know it, we’re turning the calendar to a brand new year. No one is immune to the passing of time, but we can all learn to express it – and be more in the moment.

Here are two ways you can start flexing your gratitude muscles today:

Say thank you. I make it a habit of sending out one card per day to people who have enriched my life. Acknowledge those people who have an impact on your daily life. Send a card. Give them a call. Write a personal note or email expressing gratitude for their support or encouragement. Say “thanks” in person. It doesn’t matter what the delivery platform is, it’s the sentiment that counts.

Start a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down at least three things you are grateful for. If you want to skip the pen and paper, there are a ton of gratitude apps out there now to make it really easy for you to keep track of those moments of gratitude. I use Gratitude 365 – and so does my young grandson!

By making it a habit of practicing gratitude all year long, you will find that your thoughts and words will become more positive. Lose all those negative things you tell yourself–the “don’ts and “nots” and “should-haves”—and shift your focus on giving thanks for all the little things that make you smile every day.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

Photo credit: Stuart Miles


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