• Carolyn Prins

Gratitude isn't Important Only Once a Year

Last week was Canadian Thanksgiving, a day to reflect on what one is grateful for. On Thanksgiving day itself, this task may not seem too difficult, given the rest from work and time spent with friends and family. However, life presents us with many stressful times and situations, and it is in these moments that we find expressing gratitude difficult, despite our needing its effects the most.

In her Ted Talk, The Epidemic of Smiles and the Science of Gratitude [1], Jennifer Moss speaks about gratitude and how we can increase our fluency in it through regular application. She explains that traits contributing to happiness, such as gratitude and optimism, are influenced by a roughly 50:50 ratio of nature/genetics, and nurture/environment. By practicing gratitude and exercising our "psychological muscles," we can increase our adeptness at being grateful, and be more resilient to difficult experiences. She emphasizes that the goal is to turn a "state of happiness" into a "trait of happiness: a goal she strove for with her family.

Due to their experiences of cultivating and practicing gratitude within their own family, in 2012 Jennifer and her husband Jim created a blog called "The Smile Epidemic" where they encouraged people to write and submit a note of what made them smile that day, positioned over their mouth as a 'smile'. They wanted to share the experience of living gratefully with others, and their initiative spread to 140 countries around the globe.

I wanted to share Jennifer's Ted Talk with you as a reminder that gratitude is something we can consciously strive for every day, not just once a year. Overtime, our experiences of gratitude will grow and extend, even into stressful times. I encourage you now, before you move on to the rest of your day, to take the time to write down one thing you are grateful for. By making this a daily routine, you can work towards creating your own 'state of happiness.'

1. Moss, J, (2014). The Epidemic of Smiles and the Science of Gratitude. Presented at

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