Integrative Health Blog

Serving Up Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Posted by NIHA Staff on Wed, Nov 23, 2016


Culturally, we celebrate Thanksgiving a variety of ways, but the common themes remain the same:  larger than usual family gatherings, our favorite foods, celebrating home and harvest, relaxing with favorite sports or shopping or other ways to de-stress, and remembering that in America, we generally have a lot to be thankful for. 

Many of us add religious or spiritual practices such as praying, or saying “grace” before meals, honoring a deity, gathering for worship, singing hymns, or honoring traditions of the original inhabitants of this land. 

Is giving thanks normally a part of how we celebrate Thanksgiving?  What is “grace,” and how do grace and gratitude affect our subtle energy and our health?  These are the questions that we can ask and answer in order to magnify the sense of wellbeing, or blessing, that we perceive and receive this Thanksgiving.

Grace is a Gift

Gratitude recognizes and expresses the positive aspects of our lives, in others, and in ourselves.  Gratitude engenders a feeling of appreciation in us.  Grace, in its root, refers to a gift, something unearned or undeserved, and calls us to appreciate what we are receiving, whether we think we deserve it or not.  The key element in both grace and gratitude is feeling appreciation.

Appreciation acknowledges that we are receiving some aspect of wellbeing, whether it is food or family, a promotion, a new baby, a turn-around in our health, a lucrative business deal, or a roof over our head.  When we take time to appreciate the good things that we are receiving in life, we actually shift our own subtle energy to an energy of greater wellbeing.

What do I mean?  Let’s consider an example here.  Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you were letting off steam, complaining about some situation or some person, and you were stating all the negative things that were really bothering you?  Then have you ever had another person help you discover something positive that could help you improve that situation or relationship, or even gave you hope to get out of it?  Did you then feel a sense of relief or hope?    

When we move from feeling frustrated and unhappy to feeling relief and hope, we feel better, right?  That state of feeling better came about because we shifted our subtle energy.  Subtle energy is the energy we feel based on five main things:  our physical state of being, our thoughts, our emotions, our intentions, and our spiritual state of being (such as trusting or doubting, feeling fear or feeling peace). 

Gratitude Shifts Our Subtle Energy

Gratitude shifts our subtle energy for the simple reason that taking time to appreciate people, food, events, and so on actually makes us feel better.  Practicing gratitude gets us to change the focus of our thoughts from negative to positive.  When we focus on negativity, we tend to feel bad, because the subtle energy of our bodies gets negative.  When we focus on positivity, we tend to feel excited, happy, peaceful, and so on, because our subtle energy is in line with what brings us wellbeing.

Subtle energy can be summed up as the relative state of wellbeing that we feel energetically in any given moment. 

Gratitude shifts our subtle energy by focusing us on what is going well, what is well, how we are well, and so on.  By shifting our focus to wellbeing, gratitude creates a greater energy of wellbeing in us.  We intuitively sense our own level of wellbeing all the time.  What is amazing, though, is the degree to which our own thoughts and beliefs affect our wellbeing through the subtle energy connection.

Subtle energy both affects us and is affected by our physical state, mental state, and spiritual state (for instance, feeling loved and being loving, believing that all is well, and that everything will work out well).  Subtle energy is the energy field of our body that affects our cells, our emotions, and our feeling of whether or not we have enough energy to do something.  Our subtle energy over the long-term either improves our health, or causes our health to decline.

Appreciation Opens Our Hearts

We can shift our subtle energy by giving thanks, and actually feeling the appreciation for whatever it is that we are giving thanks for.  Feeling appreciation opens our hearts, raising the amount of love we feel as well, because we are focused on wellbeing, and love and wellbeing are intertwined – we really can’t have love without wellbeing, and vice versa.

This Thanksgiving may feel more difficult for some families given the recent deep political divide in our nation.  Why not invite the whole family to focus on what is going well, and how we can appreciate our wellbeing, and even contribute to the wellbeing of others?  The more we focus on and contribute to wellbeing, the easier it will be to feel appreciation for all that is well within us and our lives.  For many people, sharing the wellbeing by contributing to food pantries, serving holiday dinners at soup kitchens, and so on, is an important part of magnifying the wellbeing for others as well as ourselves.

The more we focus on all that is well, the more wellbeing we will perceive and receive, and the more wellbeing we perceive, the more wellbeing we will be able to share!  Our families benefit from sharing and appreciating all the wellbeing we affirm together.  So, this Thanksgiving, let’s raise not just a glass, but a few words of appreciation, for all the wellbeing in the world! 

With appreciation,

Carol Richardson M.Div, MPH


Carol E. Richardson, M.Div., MPH, combines wisdom and training from both East and West, and focuses on wellness in mind, body, and soul. She is the author of Mornings with the Masters: Mystical Journeys in a Postmodern World, and  Exodus 2012: A Mission to Save the Earth and Aging Well~Be Your Best Self Forever!.


Topics: emotional wellbeing, subtle energy