Making Thanksgiving a Practice, Not Just a Day

As we approach Thanksgiving I am reminded of how easy it is to get sidetracked by all the “stuff” involved in a holiday and forget the reason and spirit behind the holiday. And I am reminded that without a Thankful Spirit, the holiday means nothing more than eating food, seeing family and, perhaps, watching football.

Practicing gratitude and giving thanks regularly will literally change how your brain works. Neural pathways in our brains (or our “wiring”) does not stay stagnant over our lifetime, it has the ability to change, including reorganizing the wires. The more you walk down a path in dirt the more worn that pathway becomes and the more likely you are to walk that pathway. Neural pathways are the same way in your brain. The more you use a pathway in one direction the more it is used and the stronger it becomes.

So if you view negativity from social media, news, friends, family and so on and then practice negativity, your pathway will be reinforced and your brain will be trained to only see and practice negativity. The flip side is that you can also rewire your brain to be positive, to see positive and to practice positivity through the practice of gratitude. This means that the more grateful we are, the more our brain will be grateful.

This year has been a challenge for many to say the least. Stressful jobs, kids at home and out of school, perhaps losing a loved one or a job or business. No one has escaped the reach of this year’s challenges I would wager. Be mindful of balancing your brain with the practice of Thanks Giving.

We can still rise each morning and practice being grateful. Be grateful that we had the opportunity to rise today with life and breath in our bodies, grateful if you had a job to go to, even if it was stressful, grateful because the sun was out and brought a smile to your face, grateful that you have children when so many cannot.

One way to practice is to keep a gratitude journal where you write down each day what you are grateful for. And even if your day was so bad that you only have one thing you can find to write, write it! Practicing Thanks and Giving consistently will train your brain over time to see the good in the world, to reflect positively in situations and, in turn, will bring you increased life satisfaction and joy. Even in the midst of life’s storms.

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