This week Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, a holiday we have enjoyed since the Pilgrims first expressed thankfulness for their harvest in 1621.
This Thanksgiving we collectively consumed 46 million turkeys, 80 million pounds of cranberries, and 50 million pounds of sweet potatoes. Your local grocer is thankful. Were you thankful for your feast? We certainly had an easier time procuring it than the Pilgrims.
What else were you grateful for on Thanksgiving?
The people you were with… a gathering of extended family complete with a “kids’ table,” friends at a “Friendsgiving,” or neighbors at a community meal? Gathering together to give thanks is what this holiday stands for.
Did you know that expressing thankfulness provides you with physical and psychological benefits? Research on the benefits indicates that experiencing feelings of gratitude leads to improved social relationships, an improved outlook and ability to cope with stress, greater empathy and less aggression, heightened self-esteem, improved sleep, reduced pain and inflammation, and lowered blood pressure. (1, 2) This research is new and much more is needed, but it is safe to say there is no downside to being thankful.
Expressing gratitude and thankfulness is a practice that benefits us the more we practice it. Rather than delegate it to one day a year, make it a daily habit.
Three relatively simple practices can make gratitude a habit:
Start a thankfulness journal or jar. Every day, make an entry in your journal for something you are thankful for. Alternatively, designate a pretty jar to collect small slips of paper on which you write down what you are thankful for. Regularly, read what you have written.
Say thank you. Who helps you? Who serves you? In our daily encounters, do we express thanks to those around us? The barista at the coffee shop, the parking attendant, the store clerk, the mail carrier or package deliverer… so many people we can be grateful for. How often are they told thank you? Be the one.
Write real thank you notes. Texts and emails are okay, but they pale in comparison to a handwritten note sent through the mail or placed where the recipient will find it. When we tell others we are grateful for them, not only do we benefit, the recipient does as well.
Which practice will you implement to be more thankful?
“Appreciation can change a day, even change a life.
Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”
~ Margaret Cousins
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