By Mike Petouhoff
We all want to choose the perfect gifts that lift people up and make them smile. Sure, a gift card to their favorite store will be well received. And you can still do that. But what about also giving a transformative gift that could improve their happiness, health, personal relationships and even their careers? Research shows that gratitude can do all that, and more. This year, it’s easy to give them the virtual My Gratitude Journey to help them achieve this more thankful life.
Just about everyone around the world participates in some form of gratitude celebration
Gratitude represents something universal in the human psyche. It’s not just about the decorations or other holiday traditions. I began researching gratitude celebrations after noticing that celebrations I encountered while living in Asia reminded me of holidays from my childhood. I felt moved to share my discoveries with the world.
I discovered that people throughout the world come together in celebrations of gratitude every year, the oldest dating back 3-4,000 years. While the central idea may be the same, the colorful festivities are as different as the cultures and histories of the celebrants.
I completed graduate studies in organizational behavior and leadership, both at Columbia University in New York and UC Berkeley. So, I reviewed the academic research and found there is modern scientific backing for tangible benefits of a gratitude practice year-round in terms of happiness, health, relationships and success, from lowering blood pressure to better sleep and improving relationships.
I’ve been wanting to do this for years now. And this year, as events around the world have caused many to reflect on what’s important to them, it seemed an essential time to share the gift of gratitude.
My long-time collaborator Bob Mauer, Ph.D., told me: “My Gratitude Journey highlights some of the best scientific research showing how gratitude can meaningfully impact your daily life. Each Daily Practice is a great way to internalize these principles into positive cognitive behavioral habits.”
Take a 12-day journey of gratitude
The virtual Gratitude Journey is a 12-day experience that can lead to long-term physical and emotional benefits. It is something you can do as a bonding experience with others, either before the holiday or during your gathering. You may also choose to do it alone to improve your own life.
Simply sign up at MyGratitudeJourney.org (or MGJ.life) to arrange for your friends and loved ones to receive a daily gratitude itinerary for 12 consecutive days. Each day’s itinerary will have three linked tabs:
1. Journey of the World.
Each day, you will take a virtual trip to a different country where you will hear authentic music, learn something about their culture, and see what wisdom you can gain from their celebrations of gratitude. Thankfulness is inherent in the human spirit. For example, you’ll discover how the people in Ghana, Germany, Japan and other nations give thanks. Many of the traditions are ancient. Some commemorate overcoming hard times. But they all speak to the wisdom of thankfulness inherent in the human spirit.
2. Journey of the Mind.
This part of the journey will reveal what modern research has discovered about how gratitude can improve your life in terms of happiness, health, relationships and success. Each day you will learn about a different aspect of thankfulness, how scientific studies compare to and harmonize with ancient wisdom, and how you can apply this knowledge in your daily life. Holiday celebrations aren’t just feel-good events. Gratitude can shift from a fleeting feeling to an ongoing practice with very tangible benefits.
3. Journey of the Heart.
This section guides you to choose something to do each day to bring the transforming gift of gratitude into your life. This year, many of us won’t be having large holiday gatherings. So, why not take this journey with those you can’t be with physically? This Daily Practice section is actually the key to reaping the benefits of gratitude for yourself and loved ones, and making it part of your life.
You might give My Gratitude Journey before the holiday, and buy one for yourself, so you can experience these daily practices with people you’d like to be with physically but can’t, as a way of having a shared experience remotely. Alternatively, for the people you will be joining for the holidays, you can undertake this experience together to make your gathering more meaningful.
Even if you start on the journey as an individual, you’ll have a chance to invite others as you get further into the process. The journey can add deeper meaning to your celebration.
This year especially, many people have already been reflecting on what is most important to them. It’s a great time to give this to everyone on your gift list.
The entire 12-day, life-changing Gratitude Journey is available for less than $10 – a fraction of the cost of a holiday lawn ornament – for the centerpiece of your holiday celebration. Plus, the beneficial impact it can have on you and those around you is priceless.
Let’s think about more than just tangible gifts this holiday season. Our country’s celebrations have global connections. Gratitude is both an emotion and a long-term disposition that can be cultivated. If you take this journey, you and your loved ones can gain the benefits described in scientific research – happiness, health, relationships and success – for your own lives.