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Gratitude: The Art of Thanksgiving

February 16, 2017 3 Comments

Grace and GratitudeGratitude

By Sarah McCarren, RN, MSN, CPNP

Have you ever met a person who has outrageous challenges throughout his/her life but continues to talk about “blessings” or readily flashes a genuine smile? You might walk away from that encounter wondering what they could possibly be grateful for. Being a nurse, I have had “the blessings” of these people almost daily.

These traits of a grateful person are not exclusive to a few individuals who have extra serotonin coursing through their brains or to the Zen masters in a constant state of meditation. Most of us do not possess inherent gratefulness; instead, we must practice regularly and consciously to develop a grateful life. Despite circumstance, physical or mental health or genetics, we can all have a piece of this pie! Here are some suggestions and information to help cultivate more gratitude in your life.
Use the picture of gratitude stickies

What is Gratitude?

My favorite definition of gratitude comes from Doctors Randy and Lori Sansone; “gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation”. The picture of a grateful person weaves a sense of warmth with a genuine expression (verbal or non-verbal) of appreciation for something they did not necessarily earn or deserve.


Why Should We Cultivate Gratitude?

Gratitude is a vital pillar of positive thinking. Positive psychology is the study of how humans flourish and what interventions optimize functioning. Many leading universities and institutions are researching positive psychology and found many benefits of gratefulness. The following table describes some of the researched physical, emotional and social effects of gratitude:

 

Physical

Social/ Emotional

Improves cardiovascular health

Improves well-being

Improves sleep (both quality and duration)

Improves employee morale

Decreases stress hormones

Decreases depression and aggression

Exercise more

Improves resilience

Fewer reported aches and pains

Improves relationships

Improves immune system

More empathy and goodwill toward others

Better attention and energy

 

How can I Become More Mindfully Grateful?

Write A Gratitude Letter

Research supports that writing gratitude letters is one of the most effective ways to obtain a grateful spirit and nurture relationships. We provide note cards and envelopes in all Dr. Don Care Packages to encourage the positive physical, emotional and social effects of being grateful.

Write Out A Sticky Note

Write a word or two on a sticky note when you notice a grateful moment and stick them together at the end of the day. Try sticking them to your bathroom mirror or a window near the dinner table and make it a point of discussion.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Put yourself to bed each night with sweet thoughts of your day or start the day journaling positive thoughts.

Paper Chain

Have the colorful strips cut-out and fill them in as the grateful moments occur. Try to reach across the room!

Make Posters

Sift through your favorite photos and pick a few that exemplify gratefulness. You can even add a favorite quote. Post them as a reminder to regularly notice the things you are grateful for. See downloadable gratitude poster.

Thumper Thursday

Challenge yourself to follow Thumper’s advice all day, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”. You might be surprised how hard this can be! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I71cY9Ysy5U

Meditate or Pray

Take a few minutes throughout the day to quietly reflect and give thanks.
Here are some of my favorite “Grateful Me” sticky notes from my students at Benchmark School.

  • “putting on warm socks out of the dryer”
  • “hairband on wrist at bus stop when wind was blowing my hair”
  • “seat warmer in car”
  • “getting to sit in front seat”
  • “vanilla scent of soap in shower”
  • “clean, newly made bed sheets”
  • “dog kisses”

 




3 Responses

Angela Bruni
Angela Bruni

July 15, 2017

I just came across this on FB at a time when I needed to see this. How can I follow this page?

Sarah McCarren
Sarah McCarren

June 07, 2017

Hi Nancy,
Yes, it is me… Bette’s daughter. Thank you for visiting our new storefront and reading “The Prescription”. Wishing you well!

nancy evenson
nancy evenson

June 02, 2017

All good. Is that your daughter?

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