Why Even Be Thankful?

Why even be thankful?

Why even be thankful?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss why you should be grateful and the surprising benefits of gratitude – including insomnia and poor sleep.

First a quick update:

“Never Satisfied: Why Powerful Men Cheat”
Mel Gibson, Prince Charles, Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse James, Marc Anthony, Brent Favre, Rolling stones Ron wood, Evangelist Ted Haggard, US  President Bill Clinton, Governor Elliot Spitzer, Governor Mark Sanford, Senator John Edwards, Brad Pitt, and the list goes on. Watch the TV special where I and a panel of experts reveal the real reasons powerful men cheat. The show airs on the Biography Channel at 10pm EST on Thursday, Dec. 8th.

Now, let’s talk about why you should be grateful and the surprising benefits of gratitude – including insomnia and poor sleep.

The USA and Canada celebrate Thanksgiving Day. It stems from the tradition of giving thanks for a good harvest and rejoicing together after much hard work with the rest of the community. The first Europeans in the Americas also celebrated their safe voyage, peace and good harvest.

Today, many people can easily argue that they have fewer reasons to give thanks – world turmoil, uprisings, wars, terrorism, unemployment, foreclosures, ailing economy, increasing poverty, divided communities and nations, civil unrest, broken families, and so forth.

On the other hand, we see rampant narcissism and entitlement – Kim Kardashian’s wedding to Kris Humphries cost ten million dollars but she divorced him after 72 days. All the money, fame, power, influence and glamour still left her unhappy and wanting.

But that is the very cause of unhappiness, confusion and depression – entitlement, greed and the belief that nothing is ever enough.

Yes, there are serious problems around the world today but we are brainwashed on a daily basis with the message that there is something wrong with us, something missing in our lives and we are not good enough – we need to buy this product and amass more stuff; we need to be like Kim Kardashian or some other celebrity or idol.

Thus the cycle begins and we strive to do more, be more and have more – the feelings of entitlement, greed and jealousy enter and we never appreciate anything we have no matter how large or how small because we are always focused on what’s missing, what’s lacking.

“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get” – Frank A. Clark.

But why even be thankful?

It leads to happiness, peace of mind, and even better sleep.

Anxiety, frustration and resentment are driven by the constant need, obsession and even addiction to always wanting what you don’t have and never being able to see, notice, recognize and appreciate what you have.

Have you noticed how happy children are – they notice and appreciate everything around them? They can get caught up and lost in the beauty of a flower or a make believe game or even the magic of their own body.

We easily become blind to the beauty around us; the more often we see the things around us, the more they become invisible to us. We take things for granted because we see them so often that we eventually see them less; we notice them less. When you open your eyes to everything around you, it’s like seeing them for the first time.

Unfortunately, corrupted religions have turned people away from some truly beneficial rituals such as giving thanks for food. Even if you do not believe in God, there are psychological and biological benefits of stopping to give thanks for the food you are about to eat – recognizing that the food is a blessing – and that it is not simply “fuel” or something to fill the empty “spot.” Slowing down and really engaging all of the senses leads to better digestion and nutrient absorption. But more so, it makes you feel good for what you have!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A study by the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham and Warwick in the UK in 2008, reveals that gratitude leads to better sleep quality, duration and better function in the daytime. “Neuroticism has emerged as a robust predictor of sleep quality, with people who are dispositionally stressed, depressed, anxious, and angry being shown to suffer from poor sleep…This is the first study to show that a positive trait is related to good sleep quality above the effect of other personality traits, and to test whether pre-sleep cognitions are the mechanism underlying the relationship between any personality trait and sleep. The study is also the first to show that trait gratitude is related to sleep and to explain why this occurs, suggesting future directions for research, and novel clinical implications.”

And as a Human Behavior Expert, I can state that there are clear clinical implications of engaging gratitude on a daily basis. For some clients, I suggest writing, reading or speaking a list of gratitude to begin the day but yes, doing the same thing at night is very effective because it creates thoughts and feelings that lead to great sleep – easing tension, stress and activating the brain with positive emotions and the subconscious mind with positive thoughts.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Noticing and identifying the things for which to be grateful is quite simple:

Write a list of the things, events and people that benefit you or have benefited you. Include in that list your qualities – your health, intelligence, personal traits, characteristics, etc.

Simply doing this exercise will help you to become clear and to identify the things and people in your life that are truly important – your priorities.

“They do not love that do not show their love.”
William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona

Knowing in your heart that you love someone is a great first step. Saying to yourself that they already know how much you love them is delusion and denial. As Shakespeare said, show them that you love them, let them know – speak, write and express your love.

The final part of the above exercise is to choose one person in your life whom has been a blessing and tell them why; let them know the difference they have made in your life. Call them, write to them, send them a card, but, speak from your heart. Yes, you will be making yourself vulnerable but you will feel better for it and so will they.

The daily gratitude exercise includes identifying one person or thing and pondering the many benefits of that one person or thing and how you feel as a result.

Remember, gratitude leads to courtesy, concern for the happiness and well-being of others, and, helps you to recognize an act of kindness, service, or caring from someone else.

Finally, gratitude eases tension and stress and frees you from that heavy burden; after all, you don’t have to waste energy trying to convince everyone how great you are, all you have to do is simply say “Thank you.”

Other articles on gratitude:

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
www.patrickwanis.com

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3 replies
  1. Avatar
    Cindi says:

    Patrick,
    Your words ring true with me! I keep a gratitude journal by my bed and write 3 things that I am thankful for each day! Tonight one will be your wise words AND friendship !
    Cindi

  2. Avatar
    Phyllis Barash says:

    Dear Wonderful Patrick,

    I am thankful for you…..

    You are a blessing and a continuous inspiration….

    Wishing you a joyous Thanksgiving…

    Love,
    Phyllis

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Phyllis,
      thank you for your kind words and compliments.
      And please know that you have been an inspiration to me with your glow and passion for life and for all that is beautiful and special in this world.
      All the best,
      Patrick

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