Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Thankfulness Project

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.
-- Epictetus

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.
-- Rabbi Harold Kushner 

November is now upon us, and Thanksgiving Day is rapidly coming. On Thanksgiving, everyone in my family writes down two things that we're thankful for from the past year. Then, after we finish dinner, we pass the pieces of paper around and grab two of them. We then read the two items and try to guess who wrote it. It's a fun game to play while we focus on the blessings that we've had this past year. However, I always get the feeling that thankfulness should be much bigger then just one day a year. 

Focusing on your blessings and being thankful in life has been proven to increase mood and decrease stress . In a blog by CNN, they summarize findings from thankfulness research the following way: "Doctors say giving thanks, taking the time to notice positive things in your life is not only good for your psyche but it's good for your body. University of California at Davis researchers found that practicing gratitude can lower your blood pressure and make you feel less hostile. Grateful people are less angry, less negative and usually look for the cup half full. Studies by Cornell University researchers have shown that those who are thankful appear to have lower risks of developing phobias, alcoholism, even depression. They even have stronger immune systems" ( Sounds pretty great, right? Something so "simple" and not time consuming at all can do wonders to help you shift to a positive outlook on life, which leads to numerous health benefits. 

So, that being said, we should ask the question "So now what?" That's why I love the idea of the Thankfulness Project. Basically, all you do is come up with 5 things you're thankful for every day and write them down. This can be done on facebook, twitter, or in your own personal journal. Not only does it force you to think of positive aspects of life in the moment, but when you're feeling down and negative, you can easily go back and read a list of positive things in life. The next time you're tempted to complain about something in life, why don't you try listing a few things you're thankful for first?

Here's an example from my life: Today I'm thankful for:
*An extra hour to sleep due to Daylight Savings Time :)
*A warm place to sleep when it's cold outside
*Being able to spend last night with a group of friends
*Apple Cider-I love fall foods!
*The fact that no matter what's going on, there will always be the sunrise the next day

So, will you join me in focusing on blessings and having a thankful heart? If you're on twitter, write #ThankfulnessProject next to your list:) Good luck, and enjoy focusing on your blessings! 

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