Cindy Hoard

Inspirational Author and Psychologist

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Hopefully, we each practice gratitude every day given the infinite benefits of this God given grace. This month reminds us to renew our intentional attention to this time for regeneration. We know that our physical and mental health depend on this commitment to ourselves. There are literal changes in our biology such as increased dopamine and serotonin, two important neurotransmitters with consistent expressions of gratitude. This month we will consider gratitude on multiple levels. We must start with ourselves, followed by our closest circle of family and friends. Reaching out into our community expands the breadth of support to which we participate and contribute. Ultimately, these combinations of engagement and expression of gratitude can impact our wider world.

The Role of Personal Gratitude
Some may consider personal reflection on gratitude as “selfish” though it is essential to start with ourselves. Our ability to practice self-compassion depends on having positive self-esteem. Engagement in personal gratitude can put us in touch with our successes, our personal assets, the gifts we share, the creativity that comes from inside and help us focus on the purpose and meaning of our life. Thanksgiving is a special time to remember the importance of harvesting the beauty of our individual lives, and revitalize and enhance our future.

Some Sample Practices for Personal Gratitude
There are endless resources with ideas for self-care and self-compassion, but you don’t have to start something new. Many discuss the boundless beauty of a daily gratitude journal where you jot down the blessings and thankfulness for what may seem like “little” things. However, it is exactly these “little” things that are a foundation of our happiness and wellness. It can be as simple as acknowledging the value of daily experiences and expressing appreciation of our personal efforts. We are each vital contributors to our self-esteem. What were some thoughts or activities that felt good and may have enhanced your overall optimism? Our human tendency to jump on the negative can preclude our awareness of the gifts of what even seem like unpleasant events or thoughts. Can you identify the upside as well as the downside? Simple meditation and reflection of just a few minutes can open the door for a broader range of thinking. Don’t forget to focus on your breathing during whatever practice you choose. The quality of the time is way more important than the length of time.

The Overall Impact of Expressing Gratitude
Self-compassion is a hallmark of extending gratitude to ourselves. Even a brief reflection on what we are grateful for can plant seeds of hope for the future. We know that recognition and realization of appreciation for who we are can improve our overall outlook on life. Research has documented that we sleep better; we are more aware of and attentive to our mental, spiritual and physical well-being; we are less likely to be depressed; our relationships with others are enhanced; and we can feel greater satisfaction with life.

Three cleansing breaths are always our partner in self-care. Spend a few minutes reflecting on your personal gratitude and thankfulness every day. Make time to indulge in something that is just for your well-being. It doesn’t have to cost a bunch of money. Take a walk outside. Do something that is fun for you (etc., go for a ride or drive, take a long luxurious bath, do a jigsaw puzzle, or even just “veg-out” in your own special way).

Be thankful for your personal life and get ready to expand out to your closest family and friends.

I am grateful for each of you. Please accept my blessings. Cindy