Gravy and Gratitude
Thanksgiving weekend is here which means its time for gravy, and gratitude. As a holiday that is has for the most part avoided commercialization, Thanksgiving in Canada still resembles it’s roots. The first Thanksgiving celebrated by Europeans in North America was a dinner prepared by British explorer Martin Frobisher. In 1578, after landing in Newfoundland, Frobisher provided the service as an expression of thanks for a safe passage across the Atlantic. Thanksgiving today is still about expressing thanks for the things that we are grateful for, and sharing time and food with loved ones.
As any half decent self-help book will inform you, expressing gratitude is key to happiness. Unfortunately, an enthusiastic effort at gratitude can come off a bit strong… No one wants to be that guy, but there are more subtle ways of acknowledging the things in life you are grateful for.
If it feels less than authentic to vocalize the things that you appreciate, it is possible to fake it ’til you make it. There are studies that show faking a smile can actually make you happier, and the same concept applies to gratitude. Simply going through the motions can have a profound effect on your attitude.
My mom bought me a gratitude journal before I was old enough to write in it. I definitely didn’t have aspirations to improve my expression of gratitude at that age, but her unwavering positivity and the practice of keeping that journal could very well have brightened my outlook. I distinctly remember sitting in bed each night, with my spiral bound notebook and gel pens, reflecting on things (big and small) that warranted some gratitude. Some days, when I was feeling particularly unoriginal and had to come up with three things, I would go with the three members of my family: my mom, my dad, and my brother (if he was lucky). Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely grateful for them, but I wanted to diversify a bit. There are entries that would highlight my appreciation for new toys or sleepovers with my friends, and some that were more substantial, like my appreciation for my fortunate circumstances, in light of the suffering of others. I often wrote of specific gestures that resonated with me. This practice has taught me a lot of things. One, that even seemingly insignificant kindness can leave a lasting impact. And two, that there is no better way to spark creativity than having to think of three things to be grateful for every day. But, scholars that study gratitude have learned even more about the practice. Dr. Emmons has found that those who keep a gratitude journal exercise more, are more likely to make progress towards personal goals, enjoy better sleep quality, and have stronger immune systems!
Of course, gratitude may come easier to some people and can fluctuate based on your circumstances. When you are going through a hard time, it can be difficult to find the silver lining, but practicing gratitude regularly can help you to build the resilience to persist through such hardship. Gratitude may start as a practice that takes work, but in time it can evolve into an outlook on life that fosters growth and strength. It’s no wonder the practice is so pervasive in yoga it does a world of good.
Happy Thanksgiving to our wonderful community at Yoga Tree Studios 🙂 we are grateful for you every day!