At Elements Massage® studios, we make it the priority to improve the lives of every person who walks through the doors. Whether we are customizing therapeutic massages, keeping current on traditional and innovative massage techniques, or offering mindfulness suggestions that, in addition to your series of regular massages, can improve your well-being. We do this for one very good reason: we are grateful for you!
Gratitude inspires us to help grow locally operated and owned studios into the fullest, best version of themselves, and it can do that for you too! Why not make this November, the month you celebrate Thanksgiving, a time when you cultivate your own gratitude? It won’t be long before you, and all the people around you, start to feel the benefits.
Gratitude and its benefits.
Psychology Today defines gratitude as “the expression of appreciation for what one has.” This isn’t limited to material things. It includes experiences, talents, emotions, relationships, and everything else that enters one’s personal sphere. The same article cites research suggesting that people who practice gratitude experience less pain, stress, and insomnia. They may also have stronger immune systems, relationships, and do better in school and at work.
If, like many of us, you find yourself feeling unconnected recently, you may be interested to learn that Berkeley University believes gratitude brings social benefits with it too! According to Robert Emmons, the world’s leading expert on gratitude, these benefits include being more helpful, generous, compassionate, forgiving, and outgoing. He also believes it helps people feel less lonely and isolated. For those of us still feeling stressed by the strained social climate of recent years, that’s a reason to be grateful in and of itself!
Gratitude and its practice.
You may think of gratitude as a feeling that you feel when experiencing, or remembering, great things. If you’re not feeling grateful at the moment, don’t worry. Gratitude is also a state of being that can be exercised, strengthened, and stretched, like a muscle. We’ve gathered some easy-to-adopt gratitude practices below. Pick one, two, or a few and with regular practice, you may start feeling the benefits an attitude of gratitude can bring!
Count your blessings.
Start by observing things you (as an individual or member of a group) appreciate and take note. You can choose to do this daily, weekly, or in a rolling fashion: adding blessings as they come to you. This is a great way to start flexing your gratitude muscles.
This holiday favorite, and catchy tune, tells you everything you need to know about counting blessings. As an added bonus, you may find yourself humming a gratitude reminder for weeks!
Keep a gratitude journal.
When you’re ready to take counting your blessings to the next level, consider a gratitude journal. There are tons of formats on the market, but you don’t need anything more than a small notebook or pad to get started. Just pop the date on a page and start listing blessings. Having a physical record makes it easier to remember blessings from day to day and makes a great reference in times when you find it harder to feel grateful.
You may see additional benefits if you choose to add daily reflections to this journal as well. Alison Gurley, a New York City–based psychologist, recently told New York Magazine that recording our thoughts “usually decreases the intensity of the emotion and helps us really articulate what we’re feeling and why we’re feeling that way...as a stress-reduction strategy, journaling has been around for a really long time and a wide variety of people find it helpful.”
Surround yourself with visual reminders of your blessings.
If you’re a more visual thinker, you may find it more effective to use visual cues to mark gratitude. Symbols, pictures, and small tokens can help conjure memories and kindle gratitude in a way that simple lists may not. Whether you keep them together in a special place or create a home altar, take care to change or rearrange your collection often. That keeps them fresh in your mind and helps prevent them from fading into the background.
Remember more challenging times.
If you’ve had times in your life where you weren’t as happy as you are now, make an effort not to forget them. This may feel counterintuitive, but according to Emmons, “trials and suffering can actually refine and deepen gratefulness if we allow them to show us not to take things for granted.” To emphasize the power of this practice he reminds us that Thanksgiving was inspired by hard times not times of abundance. “The first Thanksgiving took place after nearly half the pilgrims died from a rough winter and year,” he says. “It became a national holiday in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War and was moved to its current date in the 1930s following the [Great] Depression.”
In this season of Thanksgiving, take a moment to remember more challenging times and see if it helps you increase the gratefulness you feel for the way things are today.
Say thank you.
Experts at Harvard suggest writing Thank-You Notes to increase your own happiness and nurture your relationships with others. This can be a handwritten note, an email, a post on social media if appropriate, or a text.
If those options feel like too much, you can thank someone mentally. This keeps your gratitude practice current and may even inspire you to thank them in person later or show them a little extra affection or kindness in the future.
Donate time or treasure.
Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues proved it really is better to give than to receive. Their recent study found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more than spending it on themselves. To express gratitude, and boost your own spirits while you’re at it, give the gift of time or money to a person or organization you appreciate. It’ll benefit both you and the recipient.
Show your body gratitude and keep the practice going!
A series of routine massages provides your body with a magnitude of physical and emotional benefits that are an excellent way to show gratitude for your body and all it does for you day after day. As does rewarding it with a good night’s sleep and nourishing it with regular healthy and tasty meals. And, of course, keeping the attitude of gratitude top-of-mind does the job beautifully too! It makes you, and your world, happier, healthier, and more fun! That’s the best reason of all to feel grateful!