Happy Thanksgiving, at least, if you're in the United States that's what today is! If you're reading this right now, then you've likely stumbled upon us after a delicious meal or you're hanging out with your family and watching the football game(s). That being said, did you know that thankfulness and gratitude are actually incredibly important factors when it comes to your mental health and overall well being? Absolutely! In this blog post, I'm going to explore how thankfulness affects mental health and what you can do in order to be more thankful, not just during this time of the year, but all year long.
How Does Thankfulness Affect Mental Health?
There are a number of ways that thankfulness can affect mental health. It actually plays a very significant role in how we live, and without it, we can end up having a lot of health problems, especially in the realm of our mind. Here are some of the most important ways that thankfulness affects our mental health.
Thankfulness helps us to take the focus off of the negative in our life. Some people are just drawn toward the negative parts in their lives, and they will often struggle with being thankful during those times. If we are thankful, we can take our focus off of all of the negative and start focusing on the good, positive things that are going on around us, which is, in the end, a lot healthier for your mind.
Thankfulness helps you to be more empathetic toward others. If you are thankful for what you have, you are more likely to see other people for who they are. Many times, we get so self centered because we're worried and ungrateful for what we have, so by learning how to be more thankful, we are more likely to start to see the needs of others and be able to help them more effectively because we can actually see what is going on. It also helps us to understand where those people are coming from, because we were likely there at one point ourselves and we "get it."
Thankfulness helps you to be more generous. This is especially true if you're in a rough financial situation. Generosity is known to help people feel stronger and less helpless; because of that, the ability to be generous can play a significant role in helping to boost your mood and push you forward in your life and the aspirations that you have. Generosity is not only good for you, but it's good for those around you as well, and by being thankful, you're more likely to be able to let go of the things that you have so that you can use them to help other people in a positive manner.
Thankfulness helps us to be more open to others. If we are thankful for what we have, we are more open with people about what we need and how we are thinking. We aren't afraid of being judged, because we're grateful for the things that we currently possess in our own lives. Thankfulness helps us not to hold on so tightly to ourselves, and allows us to open up and be free without worrying about judgment as much as we may have if we were not being thankful for our circumstances. It also helps us to be more open if we're going through a tough time in our lives.
These aren't the only ways that thankfulness can help your mental health, but as you can see, it really does play a significant role in ensuring that our mental health is sound and secure.
How Can We Be More Thankful?
So, of course, now that we know that being thankful can be good for us, what in the world are we supposed to do in order to be more thankful? Here are some hints that can help you to be more thankful in your every day life, and not just during the times of year that call for you to be more thankful than usual (like Thanksgiving). Check out these tips and try them out for yourself.
Share the gratitude with other people around you. If you're thankful for something, let your attitude show it! Obviously, you shouldn't brag or make it seem like you're this super awesome person for having all of these great things, but let your attitude shine and show people that you are happy with your life the way it is - even if it's hard for you to say it at this point. By showing it to others, you can create a community of thankfulness, which will help you to stay thankful, even through the hard times that may be going on during a period of time in your life.
Visit, call, or message someone letting them know why you are thankful for them. One of the things that I'm incredibly grateful for in my life is the people who I love and who love me back. One of the ways I cultivate gratitude is by letting those people know that, yes, I am thankful for them and everything that they are doing in my life, and by showing them that gratitude on a regular basis, it will help to strengthen relationships and it will help you to think more positive. Even when times are hard, there's always someone in your life that you can be thankful for and to, and that will help your attitude stay positive.
Think about the bigger world around you. Whether you're religious or not, there is a bigger world and universe around us that we can see. By thinking about how big the universe or your deity of choice is, you realize how awesome it is that we have what we have here in this world. It helps to cultivate gratitude as well, because we realize that there are so many things that play into the fact that we're right here, right now in our lives and there isn't anything that is going to scare us off or hold us back. By looking at the bigger picture, we're able to move forward and grasp onto the great things that are happening.
Wake up everyday and immediately think of five things that you are grateful for. One of the best ways to cultivate gratefulness is by waking up daily and thinking of what you are grateful for. They don't have to be these huge things, either; you can sit down and think about the fact that you are glad that you woke up this morning! Even being thankful for the small things can help you to look at the bigger things and be more thankful for the world around you on a regular basis, thus helping your positivity and working to make sure that your mind is in the healthy condition that it should be in.
Thankfulness is something that takes a bit of practice and time in order to get the hang of it, and because of that, it's important that we learn how to do it effectively. If you need some help during the holiday season, make sure that you get it, because the holidays can be hard to get through and be thankful during. There are plenty of mental health professionals in your area that you can find here on the Theravive site, and they can help you to learn the best ways to cope and be thankful during what is sometimes a difficult time of the year.
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Harvard University. (n.d.). In Praise of Gratitude. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2011/November/in-praise-of-gratitude
Miller, M. C. (2013, August 27). The Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from https://www.intelihealth.com/article/the-mental-health-benefits-of-gratitude?hd=Minding
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