Until a few years ago, I placed myself solidly in the “Christmas is the best holiday of the year” camp. For me, Thanksgiving was a stop on the way to Cookieville and Christmas Tree Town. But, as the promise of new toys became less interesting, I realized that Thanksgiving has its own kind of magic. It’s slow and subtle, but Thanksgiving reminds us all to stop and say thank you. To be grateful for what we have and what others give us. (And of course, to eat lots of mashed potatoes.)
If you’re not already showing gratitude in your daily life, Thanksgiving could be the day you start!
Seeing and attributing “the good”
I absolutely loved this definition of gratitude that I found from Berkely’s Greater Good Magazine:
“Indeed, this cuts to very heart of my definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.
The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
The benefits of being grateful
People who practice gratitude constantly consider it enormously beneficial. They report physical, psychological, and social improvements, including:
- Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
- Higher levels of positive emotions
- More joy and pleasure
- More optimism and happiness
- Feel less lonely and isolated
- More forgiving
As children, we learn to “say the magic words.” (Please and thank you.) Who knew that saying thank you — and feeling thankful — could make such a difference?
How can I show more gratitude?
There’s no shortage of ways to say thank you and be more grateful in your life. You could start a gratitude journal (or just a sticky note to start). If you don’t want to write it down, stop yourself before you get into bed and ask yourself, “What am I grateful for today?” Make it a point to say a genuine thank you to at least one person a day. Remind yourself of the bad things to set the contrast of how far you’ve come. Write a detailed note of gratitude to a friend, coworker, or family member once a month.
No matter what you choose to do, the most important part of practicing gratitude is that you do your best to make it a habit. Don’t be grateful one week and not the next. It doesn’t take a lot to spend a little more time saying thanks for the gifts in your life!
And now, I leave you with this one-of-a-kind Thanksgiving song from Bob’s Burgers: