Here we are, in the beautiful month of November, the National Month of Gratitude! We couldn’t think of a better way to start the month than to spread a little kindness and express a lot of gratitude.
Before we skip straight to the importance of gratitude, we would be remiss not to recognize the difficult times we have all realized in the last two years. Together, we have experienced significant change and, for some, endured incredible loss. The overall sense of uncertainty can often feel like a weighted cloud is resting on your shoulders. But just like the changing seasons, every ending represents a new beginning.
With that said, our arms are wide open to the endless potential of what a new month can bring, especially when the month is rooted in nurturing ourselves and cultivating compassion for the people around us. Rather than focusing on what isn’t, let’s lean into the possibility of what is and what could be.
What is Gratitude
Gratitude is something we all hear about, and chances are, it’s something we have all thought about and even practiced from time to time. Most of us have an innate understanding of gratitude, but it’s an ambiguous concept that leaves us questioning how to define it and practice it.
According to Psychology Today, gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. Spontaneously generated from within, it is an affirmation of goodness and warmth. This social emotion strengthens relationships, and its roots run deep in evolutionary history– emanating from the survival value of helping others and being helped in return.
Now that we have a better understanding of what gratitude is, let’s dive a little deeper into what takes place in your mind and body when you experience it.
A Moment of Gratitude
Imagine standing in line at the grocery store after a long day– you might be feeling down about how the day went or overwhelmed by the long list of things you still have to get done before the night is over. Your body and mind are in a state of resistance and exhaustion. As you approach the clerk, the stranger in front of you drops their entire sack of groceries on the floor, spilling them everywhere. Without hesitation, you jump in to help collect all the groceries, and the stranger expresses their deepest appreciation.
Chances are, in a moment like this, your mood will shift, and you will feel better, lighter, and more motivated to get through the rest of the day.
This is gratitude working its beautiful magic, triggering your brain to release dopamine and serotonin.
One simple act with a powerful positive ripple effect.
The Science of Gratitude
When you think of dopamine, think of it as your conduit to feeling motivated and pleasure. Produced mainly in your brain, it is a system that is designed to reward you when you are doing what you need to survive. We are hardwired to seek dopamine releases, hence why consuming things like sugar can be unknowingly addicting.
Serotonin helps regulate mood and is considered to play a significant role in your body, which can ultimately affect your overall sense of well-being. Known as the “feel good” chemical, produced mainly in the gut, serotonin also plays a role in your sleep and digestion.
Gratitude, regardless if it is coming from within you, or directed towards you, is a natural and organic way to cultivate joy from the inside out.
Sharing about the positive impacts of gratitude was important to us because we believe, now more than ever, it is a good time to practice it. Life can be chaotic and messy, hard and unforgiving. But it can also be beautiful, gracious, and undeniably magical. We have to find the courage to not get caught up in chasing life’s extraordinary moments and embrace the invaluableness of life in between.
For some of us, gratitude doesn’t come naturally. We have to practice it and work towards experiencing the joy it can bring. Spend 30 seconds googling “how to practice gratitude,” and you will find a plethora of options.
It doesn’t have to be difficult or a time-consuming process, but it does need to be intentional. To make it easier, we have created 25 days of gratitude prompts that can be used as a fun guide challenging you to make gratitude a part of your day, every day, until the end of the month!
25 Days of Gratitude
- Someone you’re thankful for
- Something that makes you smile
- Songs you love
- Something in nature
- A hobby
- A favorite quote
- Something unique about you
- Favorite podcast
- Something that challenges you
- An old memory
- Something happy
- A favorite song
- Something funny
- Something unique
- Your favorite foods
- Something that’s helped you
- Someone in your family
- A favorite sound
- Something sweet
- A day to rest
- A good friend
- A favorite smell
- Someone who has taught you something
- Someone who has helped you
- Someone you love
Ways to Practice Gratitude
We understand that 25 days can feel like a long time and realize that a challenge isn’t for everyone. Below are a few additional ways to implement gratitude into your life!
A gratitude journal is your personal space to write down the things that bring you joy and are thankful for. It doesn’t have to be written specifically in a journal– it can be on your calendar, the notepad on your phone, or anywhere that makes it convenient and enjoyable for you to want to do it.
Acts of Kindness
Remember, gratitude can come from within you towards someone around you. November acts of kindness ideas:
♥ Reach out to an old friend.
♥ Volunteer for a charity.
♥ Offer to help a co-worker with a project.
♥ Give someone a much-needed hug.
♥ Donate flowers to a nursing home.
♥ Let someone know how much they mean to you.
Practice Positive-Self Talk
What you say to yourself matters. Your mind does not know if a negative comment is coming from you or someone else. The most important relationship for you to nurture is the one with yourself. Be kind. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Speak to yourself the same way you would speak to someone you care for.
If possible, every day, recognize and verbalize the things you are grateful for within you. This is the greatest way to start your day with an uplifted spirit and contagious positive outlook.
We Are Grateful
We hope this new month and a new beginning are exactly what you needed, and this reminder of practicing gratitude came at the perfect time. With renewed excitement, we at the Mike Brown Group look forward to what November will bring you. With our deepest gratitude, we thank you for continuing to allow us to be a part of your journey.