It’s November already! Our designated month to “give thanks”. Or is it? Should we focus on gratitude more regularly? Medical science says definitely YES!
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation for kindness and to return that kindness. Our brains tend to be wired to problem-solve and because of that, gratitude doesn’t always come automatically and needs to become a daily practice.
How often do we say “thank you” without actually pausing to feel that thankfulness or gratitude? We must learn to take the time and effort to practice gratitude. It is an integral part of self-care and also the care of others by taking gratitude further and practicing kindness. Kindness involves helpful, generous or considerate actions without an expectation of anything in return. By practicing these together, we create an environment in our life that benefits us and those around us.
Grateful behavior releases oxytocin, which is the hormone that helps connect people. Acts of kindness boost serotonin and dopamine and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone). Studies show that all of these are positive biological changes with great benefits:
- Decrease aches and pains
- Improve sleep
- Decrease blood pressure
- Decrease depression and anxiety
- Improve self-esteem
- Produce feelings of empathy and compassion
- Make positive changes in our exercise and eating routine
To put these into practice, start each day by thinking of what we are grateful for and how we can express gratitude and kindness to someone. Wind down the day by keeping a gratitude journal and record what went right during the day as well as blessings in our life. The bottom line is that people that are grateful and give of themselves tend to be healthier and live longer. It doesn’t have to cost anything to be kind, but there can be a great cost if we aren’t.
Gratitude and kindness go hand-in-hand and improve our life and the life of those around us. So let November be the month that we start this practice and extend it to every day of the year.