If you know me even just a little (like following me on social media) you know that autumn is my favorite season. The foliage, warm sweaters, fuzzy blankets, hot chocolate, Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, cooler weather —the list goes on and on! Fall is also the time last year where I really started to focus on gratitude, like how to cultivate it and how to share it with others.
When I was going through treatment, my therapist suggested that every night, instead of going to bed with negative, looming thoughts, I counteract them with positive ones. It was interesting to hear him suggest that, for I was simultaneously reading The Happiness Project and Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was also reading a number of blogs and articles on effective ways to boost my happiness and how to foster a sense of gratitude. After my session, I started a gratitude journal that I write in almost daily and track what makes me happy or what I am grateful for. The entries range from a full account of spending a Sunday afternoon with my family to bulleted lists. Whatever brings me joy, I write it down.
With the holiday season fast approaching, I decided that November would be my month of “Thankful-LIST” (a play on words of “thankfulness). Yesterday, (November 1), I started generating a list of things I am thankful for and plan on continuing the list every day until November 30. This is going to be fun! It’s the perfect time to reflect on all of the positive, happy things going on in your life!
Since starting my gratitude journal last year, I have discovered that keeping and cultivating gratitude is essential to my happiness. Being grateful helps block out the ugly, negative thoughts that may be clouding my vision including envy, resentment, and regret. Studies show that people who are grateful are more optimistic, connected to other people, and have stronger bonds with their friends, family, and loved ones.
The word “gratitude” comes from the Latin term, “gratia,” which also means grace, graciousness, and gratefulness. According to multiple studies, having gratitude promotes better sleep, increases energy, reduces troublesome thoughts, increases generosity and compassion, and reduces those feelings of loneliness and isolation. Studies also find that people who express gratitude regularly have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and are more forgiving and outgoing individuals.
It truly has worked. I find that when I counteract a few dark thoughts with positive ones, I become happier. With a little perspective, I am able to boost my mood and help boost the moods of others, too. Last December, I listed some ways to help cultivate gratitude, like writing thank you notes, mentally counting your blessings, and one that I found recently, is complimenting others. All of these steps truly help you cultivate gratitude and become a happier person.
So, try it out! You will be surprised with the results.
What’s on my Thankful-LIST so far?
- My wedding photos came in!
- Annie’s mac and cheese
- My best friend is getting married next year
- I beat my time running a mile at the gym!
- My birthday is next week!
- Fantastic Beasts on Nov. 18 with some great friends
- Gilmore Girls revival on Nov. 25
- Apple crisp…mmm…
How do you cultivate gratitude? Share in the comments below!