Gratitude: Good for Mind and Body

“Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

— Helen Keller: author, activist and lecturer

November encourages us to give thanks, but there are many reasons to give and be thankful year round. According to a Harvard Health article “giving thanks can make you happier”. Expressing gratitude consistently in your life increases your positive emotions and has effects on your overall health and relationships. An article from Berkeley refers to gratitude as social emotion, used to connect with those around us. As a “relationship-strengthing emotion” it can allow us to see how we fit into social constructs, how others have helped us and how we may be able to support, encourage, and help others.

It may be easier to notice how focusing on the positive in our lives creates better mental health, but it is also important for our physical health. A Psychology Today article said grateful people “exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.” Be sure to check out the article for more ways practicing gratitude can change your life.

How to implement intentional gratitude into your routine:

  • Journal
    • Writing about the good things that happen daily can be a great way to reflect on all the positive in your life
    • It doesn’t have to be pretty, worry less about the content, and more about the routine of filling out your journal. Bustle has made a list of their top 6 journals be sure to check them out
  • Meditate
    • Practicing mindfulness helps our situational awareness, making us more aware of opportunity and others
    • You can do this at home, incorporate it into your yoga practice or find a local group to join
    • Meditation takes practice so don’t be discouraged with the process. The New York Times has put together a great how-to to get you started.
  • Say Thank-You 
    • Write an e-mail/text – the more specific you are, the better
    • Send a thank-you note/card in the mail. I love getting mail that isn’t bills!
    • Tell the person you want to thank, in-person about your appreciation

Ways to give more to your community and those around you:

  • Time
    • We all have a variety of resources and feel like we may not be able to give in a lot of ways, but most of us have some time to share
    • Spending time to connect with others, volunteer, or just taking extra care on a task can be really meaningful 
  • Support
    • Show up to the game, the meeting, dinner, or whatever it is that person in your life needs you to be present for. Being dependable can be one of the best ways to show respect and support.
    • My husband and I like to think we “vote” with our dollars, we are always searching out restaurants that are local and run by people in our community. 
    • Buying a product from a businesswoman you believe in and using your dollars more strategically can really change the bottom line for smaller businesses and business owners.

Don’t want to do it alone?

Find events and gatherings in your community or start your own. It doesn’t have to be a holiday to gather friends and family together and show appreciation. 

There are many great events around the world focused on giving and showing gratitude. If you are a traveler, be sure to add these to your list!

Here are a few of my favorites: 

  • Tihar
    • In Nepal each year they hold a 5 day Hindu festival called Tihar. The second day is devoted to thanking dogs for being our companions. I haven’t made it there yet, but it is absolutely on my bucket list. 
  • Chuseok
    • Chuseok is a 3 day festival in Korea focused on giving thanks to ancestors. People return home to be with family, remembering those who have passed, celebrating with food and traditional rituals. 
  • Tet Trung Thu

Tet Trung Thu is a fall festival in Vietnam also known as the children’s festival. The Vietnamese believe children represent innocence and purity and represent our closest connections to the natural world. They celebrate by having children light lanterns, gathering with family and dancing.

Non-Profit Spotlight

Her Justice is a non-profit in New York City, NY serving women living in poverty with high-stakes legal needs. They serve the 5 major boroughs and provide counseling, court representation and more, on cases involved with family, marriage and immigration. Legal services can be critical, “without a lawyer, only 13% of people defend themselves successfully”. You can check out more statistics that drive their impact on their website here. The volunteers, staff, and community that support Her Justice are truly making a difference for the women and families in their community. 

We recently had an event in New York City and would love to return to speak with more amazing women and showcase community efforts that support women, children, and diversity. Be sure to check out our events calendar periodically so you don’t miss us when we come to your town!

Her Story of Success would love to hear about your family, local, and cultural traditions of giving thanks and showing gratitude. Post in the comments to share photos and details with the community!