If you’re in the US today, you’re probably celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m not going to get into the often-controversial history lessons here because we know that the past doesn’t determine the future – we can make this day whatever we want right now.
No matter your beliefs or situation in life, today is an opportunity to pause, reflect, and give thanks for your life and all that you’ve experienced.
Thanksgiving is a day we can manifest gratitude on a large scale – not just in ourselves, or at the dinner table, but nationally. Maybe even globally.
Here’s my 3-course approach to “hacking” your thanksgiving – getting the most out of this opportunity:
The Appetizer: Taking Gratitude Seriously
Did you do the thing where you spent all your time trying to get the turkey just right, but grabbed some sort of frozen, processed appetizer that you stick in the microwave when all your guests start talking about how hungry they are?
That’s okay, it happens to all of us.
But listen, taking the time to set up expectations with a personal and exciting dish can do a lot for how you and your guests enjoy the rest of the evening.
And the same is true for gratitude.
When we take the time to not just announce things we are thankful for, but to really sink into the feeling of gratitude, we’ll start to notice some pretty amazing shifts right away.
- Your interactions with those around you will be far more warm and rewarding without you even noticing what changed.
- Your food will taste better and be more satisfying.
- You’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the moment without worrying about clean up, or all the emails waiting for you at work, or all the Black Friday deals you’re going to ‘miss’ by spending the evening with your loved ones.
So take your time with this. If you need to be alone, take a few minutes to yourself before everyone shows up. Take gratitude seriously today, and be fully present to the possibility of a radical shift in how you experience life.
The Main Course: Manifesting Gratitude
Okay, you’re in a good spot physically and mentally. You’re ready to do this thanksgiving thing right.
We want to keep this simple, quick, and light (unlike your main course at dinner tonight).
You know how I just said to take gratitude seriously? Well, take the effect that gratitude has on your life seriously…but don’t be serious when you do it! Have fun with it, be joyous, let yourself feel everything fully.
I’ve found that a very simple process – which I call 3G3 – is enough to get all the benefits of a gratitude practice without taking up a ton of time or getting bogged down in advanced techniques.
The simple version is this:
- Take 3 deep, fully conscious breaths and get centered in your body. One breath is a complete inhale and exhale. This moves you from “thinking” to “feeling” and is crucial for the next part.
- Think of 3 things you are grateful for. Big or small, important or ridiculous, it doesn’t matter. It could be the sunrise, or a stranger who held the door for you, or even how amazing your parents were when you were growing up. Take some time to really feel what it’s like to be grateful for each of those three things. Enjoy the mental, emotional, and physical state of thanksgiving.
- Now that you’ve manifested these feelings of deep gratitude, take another 3 fully conscious breaths. This time, breathe into those feelings you’ve just brought up. Embrace them and savor them. Welcome the full appreciation of gratitude into this moment.
That’s it. That’s the whole thing!
Just do your best and have fun with it.
If you do want to get more advanced, I go way more in depth on the 3G3 practice in my free gratitude tutorial, so jump over there if you want to know more.
But the simple version will be everything you need if you’re just getting started. Just 3 minutes of doing the 3G3 practice will open up to you a deep and profound happiness that you can carry all through the day.
Gratitude goes further than just one day, though. Right? I did promise you a radical shift in how you experience life, not just a holiday…
The Dessert: Your Daily Gratitude Practice
Alright, we made it…
Come on, let’s be honest. You’ve just been waiting for dessert this whole time, right? The artichoke dip, cranberry sauce, even the turkey leg you fought for were just formalities.
It’s time for the best part of our gratitude meal – seeing where a practice of being thankful will take us in the year to come.
Before I get into that, I want to just acknowledge one thing: there are so few opportunities where we, as a society, are encouraged to be grateful.
So, in some way, having a day set aside to be grateful is pretty awesome.
But in another way, it’s kind of like New Year’s Resolutions – why would you only focus on your goals or the things you’re most grateful for in your life one day a year?
What would your life look like if you kept this gratitude practice going for a whole week? Or month? Or straight through until next Thanksgiving?
Enjoy Greater Happiness Without Any Life Changes
Psychologists and researchers have finally started to pay attention to how our minds view the world and the very real effects that has on us.
Professor Robert Emmans of UC Davis is one of the leaders of this type of research. He conducted several experiments to see what effect gratitude journaling – literally just writing down a few things you are grateful for once a week – had on study participants.
He also had groups that either journaled without direction or journaled negative things in their lives to compare the results to.
So you can already guess that the people who did gratitude journaling for several weeks were happier – they self-reported as 25% happier than the other groups in less than a month.
25% happier without any forced changes in their lives besides journaling once a week.
Now, I know some of you are saying “I don’t need to be 25% happier…I need to deal with all this crap in my life first!”
Well, keep reading…
Can Gratitude Make You Immune to Pain?
Another attempt at this study had participants keep the journals going for 10 weeks.
What Emmans found was that the people who focused on just 5 things they were grateful for everyday got better sleep, increased their exercise by 90 minutes per week(!), were way more optimistic about the coming week, felt more connected to people in their lives, and were more likely to help others deal with personal problems.
But here’s the big one – the people who practiced gratitude weekly reported experiencing less pain than the negative group and the control group.
Emmans even tried this on people who suffered from debilitating muscular pain and found that within 21 days, the participants who practiced gratitude journaling reported not only less pain, but less interference in their lives by the pain they did experience.
Now Is The Time to be Thankful
So what are you waiting for? A few minutes a day or even once a week can bring so much happiness to your life and to the lives of everyone you interact with.
Gratitude will even make your goals more attainable.
If there’s something stopping you from being able to fully embrace your feelings of gratitude, I’d love to know about it. It does happen to some people because of issues in their past, and I’m happy to help you work through it.
But otherwise, the time is now.
Look, if I said I could teach you how spending 5 more minutes at work everyday would increase you income by 25%, you’d be begging me to tell you.
I’m challenging you, right now, to begin a 21-day gratitude practice. And I want to know how things come out on the other side for you.
So what are you waiting for?
Come on, it’s Thanksgiving. You’re going back for an extra slice of pie, right? Here’s your extra slice of gratitude!