One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is when we go around the table and all share something we are thankful for. My heart always swells with recognition of how truly blessed I am to be in a warm home, eating an abundant meal, with people I love. It is a tradition we do every year for the holiday, but if it is that meaningful, why aren't we taking time every day to show thanks and remember what we are grateful for?
Study after study has demonstrated the vast, long term, mental and physical health benefits enjoyed by those who practice gratitude regularly - it reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, while boosting happiness, self-esteem, your immune system, relationships, and sleep…just to name a few.1
Any coach or physical trainer would tell you that your activity of choice will only become easier the more you do it. The same can be said about gratitude. Expressing thankfulness helps train your brain to be that much more sensitive to the experience of gratitude - it's a positivity snowball that is (happily) hard to stop once it starts gaining momentum.2
In honor of Thanksgiving just around the corner, this November we want to help you flex your gratitude muscles so that you can be at your peak gratitude fitness. Here is your GTS Financial GTP (Gratitude Training Plan)-
WEEK ONE: Engage your senses. At the beginning of the week, open your GTS gratitude journals and write down the prompt below with three lines open between each of the five senses that you can fill in throughout the week.3
I'm grateful for these three things I…
WEEK TWO: Give thanks. Write a gratitude letter or thank you note to three people you appreciate this week.
Interestingly, research has demonstrated that we experience mental health gains through the exercise of writing these notes of thanks whether or not we even send them2, but why not let those people know you are grateful for them?
WEEK THREE: Use your imagination. Take a moment to consider what life would be like if you didn't have that thing or person you are grateful for, and then journal about why they matter to you. You'll likely find through the process of imagining life without, your writing about why you appreciate that person or thing will be all the more detailed and vivid in your mind and your gratitude barometer has been boosted.3
WEEK FOUR: Flip the switch. Anytime you notice yourself thinking a negative thought, try to catch yourself in the moment and turn your focus towards at least one thing you are grateful for right then and there.4
A great exercise to use for this one is to change every "I HAVE to" into an "I GET to". Even a simple shift in one word you say or think can change the whole tone. Rather than "I have to get up early to go to the gym tomorrow", why not say "I get to take time for myself to do something that will make me feel good for the rest of the day."?
These shifts in mindset do not happen overnight, but some research says after just 4 weeks of gratitude training participants are already experiencing positive mental health benefits that will only continue to accrue from there.2 Consider these 4 weeks of guided gratitude exercises as your "boot camp" for a better life.
“The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time.”
1. Shambhalamountain.org, July 2021
2. Berkeley.edu, June 2017
3. Positivepsychology.com, October 2021
4. www.lifesorted.com, April 2019