As Thanksgiving draws near in the United States, we’re reminded to appreciate the people in our lives, the food on our tables and all the other things that make us happy. What’s great about gratitude is that just the act of reflecting upon what we’re grateful for actually makes us happier! Many studies find that people who practice gratitude consistently report benefits that range from emotional resilience and improved physical health to career advantages and greater empathy.
While gratitude is front and center this week in the U.S., we urge you to adopt it into every day, regardless of where you live. If you awoke each morning and took a few minutes to dwell upon three people or things for which you are grateful, you’ll find that you feel more connected to others, to your experiences, to nature and even to our global community.
Building on short daily acknowledgements, it’s also rewarding to dig a little deeper with a weekly meditation. As a starting point, the following list might incite ideas to focus on during your meditation. Read them aloud and see if one resonates with you, or create your own!
1. Who makes you laugh?
2. What went especially well for you yesterday?
3. What is your special talent? How did you come by it, and how can you share it with others?
4. What was the most beautiful thing you noticed recently?
5. What do you use every day and often take for granted? How does it enrich your life? Who made it and where did it come from?
6. What activity makes you happy?
7. Have you done something recently of which you are particularly proud?
8. Who helps make your life feel richer? And how does he or she do it?
9. What do you appreciate most about where you live?
10. What’s the best thing that happened to you in the last week? How did it make you happy?
11. Whose smile do you love to see?
12. What’s the most memorable experience from the last year? Even if it was a sad or unhappy event, did you learn something from it for which you are grateful?
13. Has anyone done a good deed for you recently? How did it make you feel?
14. Which one of the seven senses do you appreciate most today? Smell, taste, hearing, touch, sight, the vestibular system (balance) or proprioception (sensory information that contributes to the sense of position of self and movement intuitively)?
Don’t shy away from revisiting these prompts or creating your own. Gratitude is inexhaustible.