Holiday season is upon us, which means you will probably be surrounded by family and friends, eating tons of amazing food, and, hopefully, taking some time to reflect on what you are most thankful for.
Gratitude is something we tend to forget in our busy lives. But studies show that practicing gratitude can positively rewire your brain, and even make you a happier person.
So, this holiday season, I encourage you to ask: "Why are we practicing thankfulness only one day out of the year?"
For many, it's probably because you don't realize the impressive and positive results you'd see.
Here's a few things practicing gratitude does:
Practicing gratitude can make you smarter.
Rick Hanson, PhD and author of Hardwiring Happiness, explains that the human brain is wired to fixate on the negative instead of the positive. Because we learn more quickly from our bad experiences than our good ones, our brains are wired to consume negativity.
By practicing gratitude, you give yourself the opportunity to focus on the good things surrounding you. You allow your brain the capacity to relearn how to positively process information and reframe your point of focus.
But studies also show that practicing appreciation boosts your mental capacity and promotes positive mental health.
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology discovered that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, thankfulness drastically aided in allowing many to mourn and recover. Practicing gratitude has also been shown to reduce feelings of jealousy, and bitterness, says Forbes.
As stated in Psychology Today, practicing gratitude can even help you achieve goals and aid you in making insightful, stable decisions.
Practicing gratitude can make you a happier person.
According to Robert Emmons, UC Davis psychologist and author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, science shows practicing gratitude can considerably increase your ability to be happy.
Emmons says he conducted research on 1,000 people from ages eight to 80, and found that those who practice thankfulness receive a plethora of benefits. These benefits include physical ones, such as lower blood sugar and a stronger immune system. They also included psychological and social benefits.
Research shows that gratitude is heavily and regularly connected with being happier.
Practicing gratitude also allows people to build healthy relationships, better feel constructive and beneficial emotions, enjoy pleasant experiences, and even overcome challenges, says Harvard Medical School.
So how do you incorporate gratitude into your life?
The simplest way to start is by keeping a daily list or journal of a few things you are grateful for. However, gratitude should also be shared. You can implement thankfulness into your daily life simply by showing your appreciation for those around you. Little things like "thank you" notes and messages to the people in your life can go a long way.
Whenever I am overwhelmed and feel the stresses in my life are getting the best of me, I pause for a second and ask myself, "What are you grateful for?" In that moment, I list five to seven things, people, and situations I am thankful for.
This practice immediately calms me and allows me to positively and productively carry on with the task at hand.
So, while you get ready to reconnect with family, and even set your New Year's resolutions, try to first take a moment to see what's already worth appreciating in your life. Incorporate feeling and expressing gratitude into your reflection process.
Your happiness will improve as a result.