This weekend, my sister Tracy and I were surprised at lunch with a delicious Thai coconut soup. The soup was pure bliss in a bowl and it looked superbly simple. Wanting to replicate the deliciousness in my own kitchen, I asked the manager what the ingredients were. He replied, “coconut milk, coconut creme, mushrooms, green onions…” He paused and smiled with a glimmer in his eye and continued on, “and a special hot-sauce.” Hoping he would throw me a bone, I asked: “Is it Sriracha and something else?” He didn’t bite and smiled again saying “it is a special hot sauce,” placing particular inflection on the word “special”. He was not giving in. Without that “special sauce,” the soup would just be mushrooms and green onions floating in a bland bowl of coconut milk. He is keeping his secret ingredient classified, and rightfully so. Anyone who wants to experience the joy of the most delectable soup this side of the Pacific must come to his restaurant- Excellent business move on his part!
Some ideas are best kept a secret, while others beg to be shouted from the rooftop. There is another “secret ingredient” that could change how you experience your world a bit more drastically than coconut soup. While it may be prudent in business to keep trade secrets, the “secret ingredient” that can change your life deserves to be brought to the forefront and shared with everyone. If you are in the United States there is a good chance you are celebrating a holiday in honor of the “secret ingredient”: Gratefulness, also known as thankfulness. Practicing gratitude freely and regularly can drastically transform you in a very beneficial way.
Gratitude is a deep emotion. It can be present irrespective of your mood or circumstances. That means the sensation of gratefulness you feel within yourself (you many call it thankfulness, gratitude, appreciation, etc.) is a game changer. No matter your situation or your state of mind, there is always an opportunity to be grateful. More so, the act of expressing, feeling, and/or being thankful creates a shift within you (chemical, physical, emotional) and opens you up to being and feeling your best. Even more remarkable, when your thankfulness is cast upon someone else it can boost their spirit as well.
Here are just a few examples of the benefits of gratitude:
- Gratitude has been proven by leading researchers to increase well-being and decrease depression. This Harvard Medical School Article gets into the nitty gritty of the how and why thankfulness can make you happier.
- Gratitude helps you sleep better and longer- participants who spent 15 minutes writing in a gratitude journal daily slept longer and more sound than those that didn’t.
- Gratitude improves relationships, specifically romantic relationships- This study showed that both the person expressing gratitude and the person receiving the gratitude benefited. Another study showed how being thankful for the little things your partner does can be a huge boost for the relationship.
- Several studies have shown that in the best of times and in the toughest times gratitude fosters wellbeing and resilience. People experiencing physical and mental trauma who remain thankful for what they have fare much better than those that don’t.
Here are five simple ways you can implement gratitude in your life:
- Create a gratitude journal—I aim to simply list three entities I am grateful for each day and then concentrate on feeling gratefulness for each one. You may also choose to journal about what and why you are thankful. How you journal is your choice. Try starting with recording one thing you are grateful for each day and then grow from there in a way that feels natural and helpful to you.
- Appreciate people. Make a point to verbally thank people in a thoughtful and sincere way: Everyone from your closest loved ones to the cashier at the grocery store and the stranger that holds the door open.
- Write Thank You notes—be it handwritten or email, write a note. Even better, send the note to the person you appreciate.
- Think about something or someone you are thankful for and then focus for a moment on feeling the emotion of gratitude.
- Create a gratitude inventory—list 100 things you are thankful for. This article will prompt you to finish the list with ease.
When and how do you experience gratitude? What are some specific experiences you have had that were brought about by being thankful?
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
– Cicero (… paraphrased)
Enjoy the benefits of the “secret ingredient” by practicing gratitude each day. Thankfulness is the gift you can freely give yourself and others- the more you give, the more you get. Be gracious and thank generously, it could change how you experience your world.
Until the next revolution….
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