Practicing Gratitude Throughout the Year

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Thanksgiving is a holiday that readily embraces gratitude, but studies show we should be embracing it more than just one day a year. Harvard Health Publishing cites gratitude as helping "people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."

 Nina Kalley-Wilson, Recovery Specialist, and Angela Duncan, Peer Recovery Coach, created a gratitude tree for staff and clients to post "leaves of gratitude" for all to see at thurston mason evaluation and treatment center in olympia, washington.

Nina Kalley-Wilson, Recovery Specialist, and Angela Duncan, Peer Recovery Coach, created a gratitude tree for staff and clients to post "leaves of gratitude" for all to see at thurston mason evaluation and treatment center in olympia, washington.

The practice of gratitude can bring many health benefits, but sometimes it seems difficult to get past the outrage of the day's events. At Telecare, gratitude is used as a component of our Recovery-Centered Clinical System (RCCS). Our programs also like to work it into their culture, such as when our Thurston Mason Evaluation and Treatment (E&T) program created a "gratitude tree" filled with leaves detailing what staff and clients are grateful for and what brings them hope. They placed the tree on a central wall where it can be enjoyed by all and added to as the days go by.

"Having experienced recovery, gratitude keeps me humble and helps me remember where I am right now and keep the momentum to move forward," said Angela Duncan, a Peer Recovery Coach at Thurston Mason E&T. "Last year I was grateful to get a grant to pay for electricity; this year I have a job to pay it!"

"Gratitude allows us to center on the here and now and really feel the hope and support in our lives," said Nina Kalley-Wilson, Recovery Specialist at Thurston Mason E&T. "We asked about the here and now, as well as what individuals will be grateful for when they return home."

Below, we compiled a few ways you can incorporate gratitude into your life on a day-to-day basis.

  1. Take a few minutes. Set aside a few minutes each day to sit in your favorite place—a garden, your room, your backyard. Reflect on the day and make a list of three things in your life for which you are grateful. Share it with a friend and pass the gratitude forward!
  2. Keep a gratitude journal. Each day, write down a few things for which you are grateful. Focus on people, pets, or your health, rather than material objects, and try to mix it up from time to time to expand your awareness of the offerings around you.
  3. Write a thank you note. Letters of appreciation go for miles, and in the age of social media the chance of getting a written one has significantly dropped. Write a note to someone expressing your appreciation for their impact on your life and drop it in the mail.
  4. Give a compliment on a daily basis. Whether it be directed at someone or sharing your appreciation of something close by, a few words of recognition can open a world of possibilities. In 1906 Mark Twain said, "I can live on a good compliment two weeks with nothing else to eat." Imagine how far this simple gesture goes in 2017.
  5. Join a cause you find important. Whether it's donating time, money, or skills, standing behind something you believe in can offer newfound appreciation for communities, as well as newfound appreciation for yourself.