It may start with the understanding that you are a tiny, temporary piece of the larger universe. Regardless of your deeds or wealth, you will never amount to more than that.
Once you understand that, a lot of problems seem to vaporize. You understand that whatever you have, whatever opportunities you’ve enjoyed, are due to someone who preceded you. No one is “self-made” and whatever you’ve made is nothing to the larger universe. You can doom the human race as we know it, and the universe won’t care. As Mark Twain famously said, the universe owes you nothing since it was here first.
The understanding solves a lot of stresses that can affect mental and physical health. In fact, researchers have identified seven benefits that gratitude bestows on those you are wise enough to understand:
- Gratitude facilitates relationships, both in terms of quantity and quality.
- People who are grateful are healthier, with fewer complaints about aches and pains.
- Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret.
- Being grateful reduces feelings of aggression and improves empathy. Grateful people are better at sales.
- Grateful people sleep better. Simply, they’re not as stressed.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem and self-confidence. Your load is a shared load.
- Gratitude helps to improve mental strength and overcome trauma.
You give thanks not just to appreciate someone else (human or deity), but also to improve yourself. It matters.
Grateful people make better leaders and make better, less emotional decisions.
With that in mind, I hope you used Thanksgiving wisely.