The redemptive power of gratitude

Put thanks in Thanksgiving

How easy it is to get pulled off track and lose sight of the intention and meaning behind things in our lives?

This is a note to myself to always remember the “why.” It took me far too many years of sitting at meals prepared from stress and sacrifice to awaken. I’d far rather enjoy a simple meal, prepared in joy and love, than to sit at a banquet, served at a perfect table, when love, joy and gratitude have not been an ingredient.

As a child, I learned to dread big family meals because of the stress and tension of the day. I hated it, yet for years I carried on the tradition of stress and sacrifice myself, until I woke up.

I used to stock-pile recipes and make big plans for all I wanted to prepare, all the decorations that would be appealing, only to find myself stressed and exhausted at dinner time. I became a stressed, crabby-pants in losing sight of what was really important and the meaning of holiday meals. It may have looked like Martha Steward lived there, but I’d tainted the day with sacrifice nobody enjoyed.

It’s been a hard habit to break, but I’m learning. We’re always a work in progress. Now when it comes to holiday meals, I endeavour to remember the greater intention and purpose behind all the planning and preparations, and I simplify.

Thanksgiving is about gratitude and this is the intention I choose to remember and the embodied feeling of gratitude I choose to experience. In a society where striving for the next thing is often the norm, it’s easy to forget to consider the goodness in our lives. When we forget, we’re missing out on experiencing the benefits of gratitude.

As a child, I was taught to write thank-you notes when I received a gift. Back then, it was more of a duty, and I missed out on experiencing the benefits of feeling grateful. The feeling of gratitude, when experienced, moves us at depth and often causes tears to whelm up in my eyes; the feeling is delicious.

The feelings we experience are our body’s experience of the beneficial hormones and chemicals that course through our systems, both the good and the bad. Let’s harvest the good. As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s a great time to consider the importance of remembering to count our blessings, and harvest the bounty gratitude has for our health.

Research reveals people who cultivate gratitude experience:

• A reduction in toxic emotions, such as envy, frustration and regret

• Reduced depression and anxiety

• Stronger immune systems

• Fewer aches and pains

• Fewer symptoms of stress

• Better sleep

• Greater happiness

• More enthusiasm and energy

• Greater determination and better focus in achieving goals

• Better resilience when challenged

• Greater optimism

• Stronger relationships

• Increased tendency to exercise

As science reveals the positive impact gratitude has on our health, wellness, and quality of life, I realize my expressions of gratitude likely benefit me more than others. There’s a saying I know to be true, “What we appreciate, appreciates and grows.” The other side of the equation is, what we don’t acknowledge and give our energy to, withers.

It’s easy to take what we have for granted. We can overlook the importance and blessing of people in our lives and fail to tell them we appreciate them and why. We did this recently within our family and it was a beautiful experience to pause and tell each person how they bless us.

Thanksgiving reminds us to pause and consider the good we do have, and gives us the opportunity to express our appreciation to those who support our lives and to acknowledge our blessings.

I can feel the sense of gratitude in my body, as the surge of beneficial body chemicals courses through me. This increases my quality of life,

This Thanksgiving weekend, I invite you to take the opportunity to consider the good in your life. Let those dear to you know you’re grateful and why, and harness the benefits of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress or to life. We are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 44 years and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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