When you say Thank You it is usually extended outwardly to another—an extension that communicates gratitude, appreciation, and acknowledgement. Thank you is an expression that exemplifies manners and respect. These two words can hold great value for both giver and receiver, but, when was the last time you thanked yourself?
It may not be common nomenclature in society to look in the mirror and literally thank yourself, but there is great power in this act. In fact, “self-gratitude is what psychologists call a self-transcendent emotion, one that lifts us out of the everyday and expands our perspective, which can help us get along with each other better.”
In a recent unpublished experiment, researchers at the University of Florida found that a group of participants who wrote a letter of gratitude to self not only felt morally good with a sense of redemption but, unlike the other groups, this group also saw an “increase in the self-awareness measures of clarity, authenticity, and connectedness.”
Additionally, researchers at the University of California and University of Miami found that a group of individuals who focused on writing about things they were grateful over a 10-week period experienced greater optimism, and overall felt better about their lives. The research also pointed to an increase in regular exercise and decrease in doctors visits in this group. (Read more about this research here.)
Though the research points to innumerable benefits, it can be difficult to hardwire yourself to look within. For some, gratitude may look like prayer or meditation. For others, writing a letter to self or verbally saying “thank you” may have greater power. No matter how you cultivate gratitude, like everything else in life, it just starts with one small step in the right direction. And every day, taking that one small step adds up to something big. So, to help you get started, here are a few things that you can begin thanking yourself for.
Thank yourself for...
…showing up for yourself. As the saying goes, “showing up is half the battle.” Everyday you get to choose to show up for yourself whether it's going to work, taking care of yourself, or just getting out of bed. Every little thing matters.
…being perfectly imperfect. Your imperfections are part of what makes you uniquely you, but also human. You have strengths and weaknesses. It is easy to get caught up in self-expectation but when you embrace the humanness, you embrace the you.
…experiencing your life. Life is meant to be lived and without the experiences (and mistakes) that life brings, you do not learn or grow. Celebrate the life you have learned from and grown from.
…your truth. Who you are at the core matters. Your core essence includes your values, beliefs, and habits, all of which are fundamentally deep and meaningful to you. What do you know to be true about yourself?
…thanking yourself. It may seem a bit redundant but gratitude is a practice. It takes time to integrate into your mind, body, and soul. By taking time to thank yourself for staying committed to the practice of self-gratitude, you're really saying “thank you for taking action to change for the better,” and every day is an opportunity to do just that!
Not only are you a better version of self when you are grateful, but so the collective. So thank you for thanking you!
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– Casey Edmonds, MPH, CHWC, CMS, CPT, CILC