The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means gratefulness, grace, or graciousness. In other words, gratitude is the appreciation that a person either receives or that a person gives. When we express gratitude many of us do it in a tangible manner – we give someone a hug, or we write a thoughtful letter expressing our happiness / thankfulness. Or, perhaps, we give someone a gift or throw them a surprise party. In order to truly express gratitude it requires that we connect with something larger than ourselves as individuals and recognize the graciousness that lies outside of ourselves.


The holiday season and, in particular Thanksgiving, is a cherished holiday based on traditions full of shared family recipes and large gatherings filled with friends and loved ones. This is the time of year when we express our gratitude to our friends, family, and community by gift giving, hosting gatherings and attending parties. The one commonality is that most of this gratitude is tangible – it is material and can be touched. For many of us, we will continue to express gratitude through gift giving, but perhaps this year it will be over a virtual call. During this unusual time, it gives us poise to reflect on gratitude and how intangible gratitude can also be fulfilling.


“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault, freelance writer


Helping combat anxiety and depression


Often times, intangible aspects of our lives are taken for granted. We see the sun rise and smile, but do we really appreciate what the rising sun does? It gives every plant and animal on earth life. It provides us the warmth we seek when we go on vacation to the beach. The sun is a source of vitamin D and influences serotonin levels – helping combat anxiety and depression. Something as simple as the sun rising has a profound influence on our lives, but why do we not show more appreciation towards the sun and other intangible objects in nature? The answer for many of us can be complex but giving thanks and showing gratitude makes us happier and we should all do it more!


Feeling and expressing gratitude turns our mental focus to the positive, which can create a healthy balance for our brain’s natural tendency to focus on worries, concerns, threats, and other undesirable aspects of life. Gratitude breeds positive thinking and creates optimistic emotions and feelings of joy, love, serenity, and satisfaction. Cultivating gratitude can loosen the grip of negative emotions and unlock positive cycles of thinking. For example, it’s very easy to dwell and point out the negative in situations but practicing gratitude and seeking positivity shifts your focus. This shift away from the negative and to the positive is particularly important this year. We all recognize that 2020 has been challenging in many ways, so the endless benefits of practicing are even more important for creating a positive and fulfilling life.


Gratitude journaling can be rewarding and considerably impact your well-being.

People who regularly practice gratitude by noticing and reflecting upon the things they’re thankful for feel more alive, they sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and can even have stronger immune systems. Simply creating a daily habit of noting thankful moments in your journal is a great way to slowly change the way you perceive situations by fine-tuning what you focus on. Gratitude journaling can be rewarding and considerably impact your well-being. Get specific, notice new things to be appreciative of everyday, and open your eyes to more of the world around you.
We are living through unusual and trying times. For many people, finding gratitude during this holiday season may be a tall order. Our days are often flooded and overflowing with a variety of emotions that can be painfully difficult to manage. Along with the usual day-to-day stressors we are also having to reconfigure our celebrations, cancel plans and conform to a new set of unfamiliar rules. In uncertain times such as now, it can be challenging not to focus on what you’re missing; the people you’re not seeing, the places and events you’re not going to.
Are you grieving the loss of one of your closest loved ones and wondering how you will endure Thanksgiving this year? “It’s our first Thanksgiving without…” is a sentence many of us must say to the empty chair at the table this year. That’s why it’s perhaps more important than ever this year to practice gratitude; noting and being in tune and thankful for what is most valuable and meaningful to you.
Unfortunately, when there are barriers to in-person socialization, feelings of anxiety and loneliness can be intensified. This can wreak havoc on our mental, emotional and physical well-being. You may be wondering how to show appreciation and return kindness when social distancing measures and closures are in place. Although we will be celebrating differently this year, everyone can still experience a sense of inclusion and familiarity.
There are many thoughtful ways to show your family, friends, and community that you are thinking of them. You may decide to send flowers or deliver a hot meal, connect virtually over dinner, or send a kindhearted note through the mail. These considerate acts of kindness can make a big difference to someone, especially if they are isolated and alone during the holidays.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie,

Often times, simple pleasures are taken for granted. Take a moment or two right now to reflect on what you are truly thankful for.

  • Is it your ability to enjoy a warm cup of coffee and listen to the birds chirp outside your window?
  • Is it singing to your favorite song or going for a late afternoon jog?
  • Maybe it’s sharing a laugh and catching up with a longtime friend over the phone.
  • Perhaps it’s simply appreciating the quiet around you.

Communicating what and who you are grateful for can help us all feel a little more connected


No matter what speaks to you, gratitude is something that we should be able to feel and fully express on any occasion – no matter how big or small and it surely shouldn’t be reserved just for the fourth Thursday in November.
Practicing gratitude can be healing and cathartic for your mental, emotional and physical well-being.  It can lessen undesirable feelings, such as stress and anxiety, and its positive effects can help you stay well through unfamiliar times and beyond. Turning your attention to the things you have, rather than the things you don’t, can be a difficult task but an essential one.
Communicating what and who you are grateful for can help us all feel a little more connected; creating feelings of familiarity and generating a close-knit bond with loves ones without physically occupying the same space.
Being surrounded by familiar faces during this time is comforting, but it is also important to maintain these connections beyond the holidays!  Remember, connecting with something larger than ourselves as individuals and recognizing the graciousness that lies outside of ourselves will bring you pure and endless joy.