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Thanksgiving is the day many people associate with thankfulness, but this state of mind or feeling can travel with us daily and impact our mental health in a positive way. Experts and everyday people have insight into what thankfulness is and how it’s linked to positive mental health.
Xin Gu, a “performance coach specializing in helping people getting through the neuroses that stand in the way of getting to what they want,” defined in an email what thankfulness means to her.
“Thankfulness is a state of gratitude,” Gu said. “That means to look upon everything we have had as a blessing.”
She has a certain exercise that works well in helping people be more thankful. Here are the steps:
1) “To get the process started, think of something good that has happened to you in the recent past and noting just what a blessing that was.”
2) “As you process that thought in your head, you will note that your emotional state is changing. You are likely to be in what we ... would call 'a good place.’”
“This is a very helpful exercise because it allows us to focus on something positive,” Gu said. “It's like receiving a really great gift - it just makes you feel good. You do that often enough, it becomes a habit.”
However, the real challenge can be to think of bad past situations as experiences to be thankful for.
“Ask yourself, ‘How can I look upon that as a blessing?’’’ Gu said. “It might be hard to do. And you don't have to push it. But if you attempt that over time, it will start to work, and that's when the real breakthrough comes in. That is when you begin to develop the mentality that no matter what happens to you, it is something to be thankful about.”
Willie Joley, a motivational speaker and author of “A Setback is A Setup for a Comeback,” has a similar definition of thankfulness.
“Thankfulness is being blessed by all the wonderful things around you,” Joley said. “It’s your family, your health, your success and waking up every day with the opportunity to do great things.”
Being thankful is linked to being positive.
“Being thankful improves mental health because it makes you more positive,” Joley said.