by Catherine Carlton, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
Gratitude is a synonym for thankful, so it is appropriate that we celebrate National Gratitude Month as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.
At the Red Cross, we are grateful and thankful every day for our staff, our volunteers and our donors. Together we work to fulfill the Red Cross mission. Whether you roll up your sleeves to help in the aftermath of a disaster, help train others in how to respond, write a check or give blood: We thank you this month and every month for helping others. Without you, none of this would be possible.
Gratitude is an exercise – a practice. A way to take the time to count your blessings, to thank someone, and to acknowledge what makes you happy. Like exercise, you may have to schedule it into your day to be sure you get it done.
And what I’ve learned this year is that it’s a practice that actually changes your brain. Stress can change your brain, and so can gratitude. And like physical exercise, it’s one step at a time. One small change that can yield big changes. (Read How Experessing Gratitude Can Change Your Brain in the New York Times.)
I also have found that like physical exercise that yields adrenaline like a “runners high,” gratitude can have benefits for yourself, as well. As you thank people more purposefully and as you take notice to your blessing and acknowledge what is good, you are happier. We’ve all heard “you get out of it what you put into it,” and that is incredibly true for gratitude, as well.
While it might feel silly or hokey at first, take the time to tell your family, your friends, your co-workers how you value them. Know that it will become ingrained and natural and have immeasurable benefits to you, them and your relationship.
Find a gratitude partner and hold each other accountable; focus on what you are grateful for each day. I am thankful for my gratitude partners Jeff, Vicki, Diane and Becky. They probably don’t even know how much them expressing support and gratitude makes me appreciate my blessings every day. This month I am especially thankful for them.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the wonderful work of the Red Cross with you. Share what you’re grateful for below. Start exercising your grateful muscle and tell us how it makes you feel.
Happy Thanks-ful-giving, and #Thanks4Giving your financial gifts, blood donations, your time and talents to the American Red Cross!