At this time of year, around Thanksgiving, many of us reflect on all that we have and all that we are grateful for. It’s a time for coming together with family and friends. But for some it’s also a source of stress — maybe because of pressure to host the perfect gathering or loneliness from being far from home.

That’s where cultivating habits of gratitude and focusing on the positive come into play.

According to established research, practicing gratitude has multiple physical and mental health benefits. From increased happiness, to reduced depressive symptoms to stronger relationships — being grateful has its perks.

But being grateful doesn’t come easy to everyone. Recent data suggests that those with high levels of autonomy struggle to achieve states of gratitude, feeling that attributing their success or happiness to others undermines their own independence. Other studies have shown that gratitude journals did not improve emotional wellbeing for middle-aged divorcees or adolescents, suggesting that gratitude may require emotional maturity to attain. Still, much of the data suggests the multiple benefits for “faking it till you make it” even for those that find it difficult.

There are multiple ways that we can practice gratitude including:

  1. Keeping a gratitude journal:

Whether daily, weekly or monthly, handwritten, typewritten or even mentally noted in your head, consistent logging of what you are grateful for is a habit that has shown to increase feelings of happiness.

2. Saying prayers of thanks or meditating:

You don’t have to be religious to cultivate gratitude. It can be achieved through mindfulness or even being in nature.

3. Sending thank you cards or verbally expressing thanks:

Find someone in your life who has had a positive impact and let them know. So often in our rushed world we can overlook this simple act, without realizing the benefits we are missing out on.

4. Small daily acts of kindness:

Gratitude doesn’t have to be a forced labor. There are opportunities every day, just by smiling at those you encounter to let them know their presence has lifted your mood. It never ceases to amaze me how much better a day I have when I make a concerted effort of thanking and smiling — the barista, the doorman, the bus driver — the options are innumerable.

MyBrainSolutions is designed to help make gratitude and positive thinking an automatic daily practice. In the mindfulness meditation exercise, users are guided through a practice of positive thinking and gratitude. Games like e-Bubbletopia help focus the mind on positive words and thoughts (I find it especially effective before a commute). Plus, the gratification of popping the bubbles gives an extra positivity boost.

If you’re feeling de-motivated at work (as many people do when the days get shorter and the end of year comes to a close), finding one area to be grateful for around your job can even increase job satisfaction and productivity.

So, this Thanksgiving, go ahead and take an extra helping of gratitude. It will feed and nourish your soul, while improving your health, relationships, job satisfaction and overall outlook on life.

By: Natalie Cann, Head of Marketing

Disclaimer: The opinions above are of the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brain Resource. The post, while scientifically validated by our Chief Science Officer, is for information only and is not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship or advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one’s own healthcare professionals.