A Time to be Thankful
With October’s frosty mornings, colourful foliage and never-ending layered outfits, northerners are also gearing up for Thanksgiving – a time for family, food and feeling thankful.
Before my family digs into our Thanksgiving coma-inducing feast every year, the tradition is to go around the table and share what we are most thankful for. And it’s really quite wonderful to hear from loved ones and recognize our blessings year after year.
Unfortunately, this tradition only happens annually and the fuzzy feelings of thankfulness don’t always last, but it got me thinking that they should … or I should at least try to recognize what I’m thankful for, more often.
We can all admit to complaining. Sometimes it’s easier to vent about the things that don’t feel right or whatever is straight up annoying the crap out of you at any given moment. And while it’s true that talking about your feelings can be a good thing, constantly narrowing in on the negative can have some pretty crappy consequences, including chronic stress, a weakened immune system and according to some research, even heart disease.
Don’t get me wrong; I am definitely guilty of jumping on the negativity bandwagon. On a day that my boys wake me up before it’s even considered ‘morning’, have major meltdowns for not being able to divulge into the 16 yogurt drinks they hid under the table for breakfast and then pull every household pillow, blanket and stuffed animal into the living room to make a cabin that they “can’t” clean up when it’s time for school, I can get caught up in a negative spiral before 8 a.m.!
But I’m *trying* (even through the chaos) to embrace it and roll with it, because at the end of the day they are happy, healthy and inquisitive little dudes and I’m lucky to be their mom – mess and all.
The Benefits of Gratitude
The truth is that bad things happen to all of us – everyday. But the great thing is that we don’t have to be happy all the time to experience gratitude. In fact, the more we acknowledge the things we are grateful for, the happier we will be.
According to Dr. Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “emotional vitality—characterized by enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—is associated with a substantially reduced risk of heart attack and stroke”(Harvard Health Publishing).
5 Ways to Practice Gratitude
1.Make a Note of it (literally):
When our thoughts are on paper, they become real things. Taking a few minutes a day or even each week to jot down some positive points about the good stuff helps us to remember what’s most important and internalize gratitude regularly. Having a dedicated journal or booklet can help you shift your mindset when sitting down to write.
2. Get Outside:
Take in the beauty, enjoy the surroundings, benefit from the fresh air. Spending even a short amount of time outside can help boost our serotonin levels, reduce stress and make us feel good – something to be grateful for! This is a perfect time of year for enjoying nature. Check out Tara’s top fall hikes if you’re looking for inspiration!
3. Take a Breather:
When we pause for a moment, even the most hectic days can feel more calm. Stopping to take a few deep breaths can help us reset our mindset. Making time for yoga and meditation is a great way to focus on our breath and setting positive intentions for ourselves (be sure to check out our 15 minute morning motivation yoga sequence!).
If you only have a couple of minutes try this short exercise: close your eyes and take five deep breaths. With each inhale, picture yourself getting brighter and filling up with joy and love. As you exhale, take any negative thoughts, pains or worries and push them out of your body and mind with your breath.
4. Make it a Family Thing:
Spending time with loved ones (friends, family, pets) helps us remember what life is all about. The opportunities that we give ourselves to live and learn with others can yield some of the best experiences and memories that will stay will us forever. Sharing feelings of gratitude can help spread the love even further, making both you and others feel great. So don’t be shy to tell someone how thankful you are to have them in your life.
Here are some family-fun ideas:
Make a family (or personal) gratitude jar by decorating a mason jar, an old vase, or even a shoebox and fill it with notes about what you are most grateful for. When times get tough, or if someone needs a reminder, pull it out and read them aloud to remember how much there still is to be thankful for.
Have a gratitude scavenger hunt with your kids by asking them to find items that they are thankful for. Lists can include finding something that: tastes good, is fun to play with, keeps them safe, is in their favourite colour, etc.
5. Pay it Forward:
Pay for someone’s coffee, volunteer to make an impact in your community, give what you can to those who need it. Even small gestures can go a long way. Helping others makes you feel good and gives you a greater sense of purpose, which in turn helps you too. And it always seems to come full circle.
To sum it up
Life isn’t perfect—no matter how much social media makes it seem like it is—but it’s also filled with so much goodness. Being able to point out the positives in people and situations ultimately helps us lead happier and more fulfilling lives. I hope you can take some time to feel grateful and express your gratitude, not only for Thanksgiving, but all year-round!
A Grateful Lifestyle
Some helpful reads for the whole family and beautiful decorative reminders to lead everyday in a more thankful light.
Gratitude: A Way of Life by Louise Hay and friends
I’m Thankful Each Day! Children’s book
The Thankful Book – A children’s book
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