The Thanksgiving holiday began when the pilgrims gave thanks for their survival and for a good harvest. Expressing gratitude is one of the simplest ways to feel better! So perhaps November is a good time to review the mental health benefits of gratitude — and to consider some ways to cultivate this lovely state of mind.
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness, and gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for everything we receive, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Most people recognize that the source of that goodness often lies outside of themselves. As a result, gratitude helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals, whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude). Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.
Ways to cultivate gratitude
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. While striving for feelings of gratitude may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.
Write a thank-you note
You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
Thank someone mentally
No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
Keep a gratitude journal
Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one, thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.
Count your blessings
Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.
People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).
This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA, we invite each of you, regardless of where you live, to take some time to express gratitude for the many blessings you’ve been given. Take some time to consider more deeply your Nikken business. What are you grateful for when it comes to what Nikken offers you? How can you express this gratitude in a better way?
Are there people you can reach out to or ways you may want to change your behavior in the business as a consequence of this increased or more focused gratitude? If so, we invite you to do something about it! Gratitude is not something we simply feel, but something that compels us to act.
Let’s take action. Let’s do something about our grateful hearts and the Nikken business we rightly deserve to cherish.
Much love to all of you
Ben & Dave
Entreleadership on Thanksgiving