Thanksgiving: Practicing Gratitude
Have you ever noticed yourself only focusing on the things that are going wrong? Humans are hardwired with a negativity bias, a predisposition to weigh negative experiences more heavily than positive ones. This mechanism was adaptive when our ancestors had to fight off predators on a daily basis, but it’s not so adaptive these days, when we aren’t exposed to constant threat.
Even though we have this bias, we’re not powerless to it. Cultivating a sense of gratitude can help to counter our predisposition towards negativity. The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday can activate feelings of gratitude as we reflect on the people, things and experiences for which we feel grateful. In addition to the warm, fuzzy feelings that gratitude generates, creating a gratitude practice brings a variety of benefits, including better sleep, less stress and more fulfilling relationships.
There are many ways you can kick start a gratitude practice. I’ll highlight a few questions that you can consider to cultivate gratitude this holiday season:
What is something that you did in the past week that you feel grateful for?
What is something that someone did for you in the past week that you feel grateful for?
What is something that you experienced (saw, tasted, smelled, heard or felt) in the past week that you feel grateful for?
‘Tis the season for gratitude — happy Thanksgiving!
Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.
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