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Giving Thanks at this Season

November 16, 2015

Gratitude, the feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for benefits we have received, is a powerful thing – it lifts us up and reminds us of all the blessings in our lives.

We Give Thanks

31700876_sAs Thanksgiving approaches, we have many reasons to be grateful here at Keohane.

“We are grateful for all the families that put their trust in us during some of the most difficult times of their lives,” said Co-president John Keohane. “We are grateful for the caring and supportive staff at Keohane that helps our families put their loved ones to rest with dignity and helps them to celebrate their loved ones’ lives. And we are grateful to our own families who support us throughout rewarding careers that often puts others needs before their own.”

The Benefits of Gratitude

According to Psychology Today, gratitude has multiple benefits:

Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.

Dr. Robert Emmons, author of Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier proposes that there are three stages to gratitude: recognizing what we’re grateful for, acknowledging it, and appreciating it. Based on his research, Dr. Emmons says the benefits of practicing gratitude can strengthen relationships, improve health, reduce stress, and make us happier overall.

The Practice of Gratitude

Even when life is not going our way or we have experienced a loss, focusing on the things that we are grateful for can shift our attitude in a more positive direction. Gratitude for even the smallest things can make a difference – from admiring a beautiful sunset to noting a neighbor’s smile. Of course, being thankful for the important aspects of life such as good health and connections with friends and family is powerful as well.

Sometimes it can be hard to be grateful when we are stuck in a difficult place. Cultivating gratitude takes practice, just like any other skill. The digital app, Unstuck, gives some practical advice on cultivating gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. If journaling seems overwhelming, just jot down one to three things that make you grateful in each day.
  • Give at least one compliment a day.
  • Become involved in a cause that is important to you.
  • Practice humility – a necessary trait for gratitude.
  • Sound genuinely happy to hear from others over the phone, in person or in email.
  • Discover what you can learn from a bad situation.
  • Notice the amount of energy you are spending on negative thoughts and actions. Take a vow not to complain, criticize, or gossip for 10 days.
  • If you identify something or someone with a negative trait, switch to a positive trait of that person or situation in your mind.

Photo Credit:  Dmitriy Shironosov/123RF

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