It’s in Our Nature

Make Every Day Thanksgiving

By Meghan Hill

It comes naturally to most human beings to express thanks for the beauty in their lives, and to demonstrate gratitude for their loved ones—at least occasionally. But there is no denying the fact that sometimes we can’t help becoming all-consumed with the day-to-day demands, which can sometimes lead us to adopt a narrow, and even negative, perspective.

So what happens when we make cultivating gratitude a daily practice? Gratitude, the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness, offers social, emotional and psychological benefits, while boosting the immune system.

Studies have shown mounting evidence that being thankful confers numerous measurable effects on body and brain systems, including mood neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine) and social bonding hormones (oxytocin).

If you need an obvious reason to pause and give thanks each day, here’s one: you’ll make new friends and strengthen your existing relationships. Developing a sense of gratitude allows us to acknowledge the good in ourselves and others. Gratitude also fosters happiness, and who doesn’t want to be around a happy person? When we are grateful, we have the ability to access and spread joy. By practicing intentional gratitude as an affirmation of your friends and family, you become more closely connected to them.

Pessimists, take heart. If you don’t think you’ve got what it takes, here are a couple of simple ways to develop a grateful heart:

Observe nature. Turn off your phone and take a walk outside. Just being in nature offers its own rewards. Watch the sun set … or, the moon rise. Press your palms open to the sky, allowing yourself to be receptive to the earth. Allow a sense of gratitude to wash over you.

Consider the positives. Before you go to sleep each night, jot down everything that went right throughout the course of the day. Consider the good you did. Think about something kind somebody said. Note anything that made you smile. You will sleep great, wake up optimistic and ready to brighten other people’s day.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

Ever since childhood, nature writer Meghan Hill has revered the great outdoors. Her career as a journalist has taken her all over the country working across many mediums, including film, radio, newspaper, magazine and non-profit development. She recently published her first children’s book, Elephant Ears, Lizard Legs and Eagle Eyes, and is currently writing a work of literary non-fiction about reconnecting authentically to nature. An outdoor educator and avid hiker, Hill is a champion of natural heritage issues, policy on farming and forestry, and the protection of our marine life.

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