Giving thanks is an interesting practice. In some parts of the world, a person who gets access to clean drinking water and second-hand clothes can be very grateful. Someone else who has every necessity in life can be found complaining about something they don’t have.
Many people look toward external factors to give them happiness only to discover that happiness is an inside job. It’s the inner game that shifts the outer game. When our clients consistently practice their gratitude systems, they share how things start shifting for them.
Science is now showing that your brain is changed when you have a process of gratitude. According to the UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain. You are more peaceful, less reactive, and less resistant.”
Researchers found that people who have a way to count their blessings tend to be happier and experience less depression. In a study by the University of California, Berkeley, 300 adults were randomly divided into three groups. They all experienced mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression.
All groups received counselling services, but the first group was also instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person every week for three weeks. The second group was asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about negative experiences. The third group did not do any writing activity.
What did they find?
The first group who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health over the other two groups. In fact, the study showed that they reported better mental health for up to 12 weeks after the writing exercise ended.
As we approach Thanksgiving in the US, let’s get in the habit of writing what we’re grateful for every day. Let’s start today and every day. I am grateful for my health, family, and the abundance of new opportunities.
And, you? What are you grateful for?