How do you Gratitude?

How do you Gratitude?

The leaves are changing, pumpkins are appearing on doorsteps and the aromas of Thanksgiving are just around the corner.  The words gratitude, thankful and blessed start to whirl around like the crisp leaves dotting the city streets.

Our ancestors would give thanks for a successful fall harvest, and it wasn’t until 1957 that Parliament proclaimed the observance of the second Monday in October as “a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”

That’s a strong statement, which may not resonate with everyone.  The idea behind it—taking time to give thanks for the bounty in our lives and our country—is perhaps even more relevant today than 1957.  

Our wonderfully advanced, modern-society allows us to access almost anything from our mobile devices.  Fresh produce, hand-made clothing, books, furniture, art and toys are just a few things we can get delivered right to our door.  And who doesn’t like getting parcels?! 

It can be easy to forget gratitude when life becomes instantaneous.  When was the last time you had to wait for something?  Like really wait—not just for the subway or Uber.  When you went to the library for information or could only eat what was in season.  Kind of gives you perspective, right?  

Gratitude goes hand-in-hand with Presence.  Ahh, presence.  Being in the here and now.  Mindful.  Connection.  There are so many ways to describe that lovely place of just being.  Content with this moment, because, really that is all we have control over.  We cannot change the past, and the future, well, is impacted by the present moment.  Okay, okay we’re getting philosophical.  And, hey, we too experience the challenges of daily life, including forgetting to be grateful or being impatient.

So, why Gratitude?  Can it really change your life all that much?  Is there science to back any of this stuff up?  Yes there is.  Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, conducted a gratitude study that randomly assigned participants one of three tasks; one group briefly described five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, another five recorded daily hassles from the previous week that displeased them, and the neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they were not told whether to focus on the positive or on the negative. Ten weeks later, participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group. They reported fewer health complaints, and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more.

Take a moment to think about your daily life—how often do you feel joyful, appreciate people/things, are patient and express gratitude?  Now think about the times you experience negative self-talk, blaming people/things, impatience or dissatisfaction.  We all have days that can be more challenging than others; life can present us with situations that are difficult, sad and downright hard.  It’s important to allow space for those times, to learn and grow from ourselves and others.  

But let’s get real for a minute—most of us could be choosing gratitude more often.  We believe in the power of taking responsibility for your thoughts, actions and behaviours to create positive change.  For the month of October we are embarking on a Gratitude Challenge and invite you to join us!!  Jot down three things that you are grateful for each day.  A hot cup of coffee, your kids smiling, a cute puppy, a great sandwich, funny movies or a cozy blanket.  Anything that your heart feels grateful for.  At the end of the month, reflect on your daily experiences.  Were there any differences in your day-to-day life? We have a sneaking suspicion that the answer will be yes!