Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, this season invites us to recognize the importance of being grateful in our lives. Counting our blessings gives us a different perspective on life, reminding us that every day on this planet is worth celebrating.
Even during difficult times, expressing gratitude helps us exercise positive emotions and embrace all the goodness that comes to us (no matter how small). Finding a silver lining has been an integral part of the way we view life for millennia; philosophers Seneca and Cicero considered gratitude as one of the key virtues to building a solid community.
According to Psychology Today, embracing thankfulness may also contribute to improving our mental and physical health; studies across the board have proven that people who do so report less insomnia, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and even inflammation.
When we integrate gratitude into our lives, even our bodies begin to change: the volume of gray matter in the right inferior temporal gyrus of the brain can increase, more dopamine and serotonin are produced in the body, and cortisol levels are regulated (resulting in better cardiac functioning).
If you’re ready to be more grateful, here are some tips to get you started:
Keeping a notebook exclusively to write down all the things you appreciate in life will help you understand many reasons to celebrate. Include everything that makes you happy—from family and friends to your favorite meal or your comfiest pajamas. Often we take for granted certain things that others dream of.
We all have 20 minutes to spare daily, regardless of how busy we are. We recommend taking the time in the morning, before checking your phone, to close your eyes, focus on your breath, and think positively until you drift into total contemplation. Wrap up the session with your hands in prayer position or with your palms against your chest; feeling your heartbeat and lungs working is reason enough to be grateful.
Express it publicly
There’s no better feeling than making someone smile. Gratitude is an important pillar of social bonding; the more you share it the more you’ll receive it in return. For example: if your association’s managing team does a good job, let the rest of the community know. Take advantage of ONR’s message board to post a thank you note highlighting their work and you’ll notice how contagious it can be. What comes around, goes around—so why not focus on the nice things?
Spend time in nature
Taking time to contemplate the magic of nature will help us feel more integrated into the ecosystem, recognizing ourselves as part of something bigger, essential to the planet’s wellbeing. Even if you can’t hike a mountain or walk along the beach, head to your nearest park, take off your shoes and allow yourself to feel the earth under your feet. Hugging a tree is always an option too! We promise that although it sounds strange, after 10 minutes of wrapping your arms around a trunk you’ll immediately feel better. After all, these beings are responsible for giving us clean air!
At ONR, we’re thankful for the journey we’re on, but especially for the people that have accompanied us along the way. That includes you. Without your support, we wouldn’t have come this far. So from the bottom of our hearts: Thank You!