Hey everyone! So, the holidays are upon us once again and now that we’ve recovered from the candy comas of Halloween and the recognition of our wonderful veterans, we can now concentrate on Thanksgiving. And yes, I realize there are tons of articles, tidbits and Facebook posts that mention our need to be grateful, but I want to talk about the science behind it. Because there is actually research here that identifies the positive benefits of intentionally identifying and focusing on things we are grateful for (we’ll get to how you do it in a second). Additionally, related research can be found here and here. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. More and more evidence is showing that building these practices into our lives can make significant differences in symptoms of depression, quality of relationships and improved physical health.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, in 2015 there were 16.1 million American adults who experienced at least one major depressive episode – that’s 6.7% of all adults. That is a lot of folks suffering. But in addition to that, many of us just tend to default to the negative. We are hard wired to assess risk and look for the worst-case scenario. It’s in our genes from caveman days when we HAD to constantly look out for what might do us in. So often, we resort to focusing on what’s gone wrong instead of what’s gone right. This can lead to increased stress which impacts our bodies often in silent ways that are awful for our health.
Good news though. There are simple practices we can establish in our own lives that don’t have to be very difficult or time consuming, that can SHIFT our perspective – literally adjust the lens through which we view life. That’s pretty cool! Because the way I see it, perspective is really all that matters. It doesn’t matter what’s really happening out there, what matters is how we view it and deal with it. So, here is the ask my friends. Choose to spend 10-15 minutes each night before bed putting thought into what went well in your day, what made you happy, and/or something that you are thankful for. Write down at least three things. Do this every night for 2 weeks and just see what happens. It’s only 10 minutes. Don’t reserve this wonderful practice for once a year, on a holiday, around the table. If you want to take it a step further, check out the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center here for simple instructions on expanding this practice to a greater level.
Happy Thanksgiving and positive thinking to you all!