Part of my recovery from codependency has been being able to be thankful for good and bad in life. There are reliliency studies that suggest that when we learn to see setbacks and troubles as opportunities, we develop a more optimistic outlook and weather the storms of life better. I’ve learned it’s not about denying how hard something is, but focusing on the growth that’s occuring as I work my way through it.
So, I thought that, with this Thursday being the American Thanksgiving holiday, I would see what I could find about the benefits of thankfulness and gratitude. I found a gem of an article on the Forbes website.
Here’s my take on their take:
- Thankfulness improves and increases the number of good relationships we have. Forbes stopped at noting that when you thank people you don’t know well, they are more open toa relationship with you. I agree, but I’ve also learned that being thankful for the good people in my life opens me to being more receptive to relationships with others. I can take the risk of a few emotional bumps and bruises because I can see the benefit of learning from good people.
- Thankfulness improves physical health. Forbes doesn’t explain this much, but points out that thankful people have fewet aches and pains and are more likely to do things (like exercise, eating right, and getting enough sleep) that take care of their health. I don’t know exactly how the mind and body are linked, but I know the link is there. I have experienced the weight of feeling like life was out to get me, and it sucks physical energy right out of me. The beauty is that, because the mind and body are so closely linked, making a lasting change in one area will cause a lasting change in the other.
- Thankfulness improves mental health. Absolutely! It’s hard to exist in toxic emotions when you are delighted with all the good things that are in your life! I have to admit, it was awkward in the beginning: sometimes I felt like I was lying to myself or copping out with “it could have been worse” gratitude, but it was a start. Now, I can be grateful for sunny days when it’s time to run, and a gym close by when the weather doesn’t cooperate. If you have trouble being genuinely thankful in the beginning, give it time. The best things in life take practice.
- Thankfulness increases empathy and reduces aggression. For me, it’s a sense of I’ve been there, and I’m sorry you are there because I remember how awful I felt. It’s hard to be mad at someone when you wish you could help them find their own happiness.
- Thankful people sleep better. It would seem to me that this works because thankful people feel like they are living in abundance. They have fewer worries running through their head when they try to sleep.
- Thankfulness improves self-esteem. This totally makes sense, too. When I see all the wonderful and good in my life, it’s hard to be jealous of others and easier to cheer them on in their accomplishments.
- Gratitude increases mental strength. I kind of mentioned this at the beginning. There’s something about being thankful that makes it easier to see tough times as opportunities, and that makes it easier to stay strong.
So, as we get ready to be thankful for a day or two in America, stop and consider what you have to be thankful for in your own life. Consider keeping a gratitude journal or making mental notes of all the good things that happen each day.
You might also like to read 31 benefits of gratitude.