A good friend of mine is visiting New York for Thanksgiving. She can’t wait to start Christmas shopping, watch the famous Macy’s parade and soak up the atmosphere while the residents of New York celebrate this special holiday.
Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal and is a time for people to give thanks for what they have. Some people choose to express their gratitude by giving back to the community, such as helping out at a soup kitchen or at a shelter.
Gratitude has been proven by Positive Psychology researchers to be one of the most powerful ways to overcome depression and increase happiness. So while Thanksgiving is a lovely tradition, it’s something that we could all do more often.
The art of appreciation is about noticing what’s right in our lives rather than what is wrong. Counting blessings rather than burdens and training the mind to see when the glass is half-full.
It enables us to focus on the positive aspects of our lives, rather than drawing attention to the negative.
Rather than forcing ourselves to be grateful, we need to cultivate gratefulness and learn to feel it.
You can start to do this by trying any of the following suggestions on a regular basis.
Three good things
At the end of the day, write down 3 things that have gone well for you or that you’ve appreciated.
It can be anything from getting over a cold or finding the last parking spot near to the supermarket, to being offered a job interview or booking a holiday for next year.
During the more difficult times, the 3 things might not seem so great, but getting dressed or sitting outside in the garden can be huge and significant achievements at that particular time.
This is a good way to reflect on the day and can lead to better sleep when completed at bedtime, and once you get into the habit of gratitude, you then start to look out for the good things during the day that will make it onto the list later.
No matter what device you’re reading this on, you can give gratitude to the people that helped it to get to you.
The designers of the device, manufacturers of every single component, suppliers who sold it to you and the delivery drivers that brought it to you, all had their part to play in getting this item into your possession.
You could also be grateful for whoever paid you the money that enabled you to buy the device, and whoever paid them… and the list goes on!
The gratitude journal
This is an ‘extended’ version of three good things.
Take some time out just once a week to reflect on the things that are going well in your life. Again, try to include the smaller things too as these can become much more significant in the future and will show your progression. It also helps you to acknowledge the good things that happen to us which we can easily forget.
Choose a nice note book that you can treasure and use your favourite pen so the whole experience of writing in the journal becomes a treat that you can savour.
You could write your journal whilst having a nice cup of tea and a biscuit, a delicious hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows or a glass of your favourite wine. Add photos and small keepsakes to the journal too if you wish.
Sending thank you notes
Writing a thank you note is an act of thanksgiving but also enables you to nurture relationships.
Handwritten notes are better if you’re able and try using paper or cards that are visually or textually appealing. Put on some music to help you feel good and write down the reasons for your gratitude.
Sending a thank you note also shows that you are not taking that person for granted.
In addition to our increased happiness, developing an attitude of gratitude can also help us with our self-esteem, optimism, enthusiasm and overall mental well-being.
So even if Thanksgiving isn’t a national holiday in the UK, it actually makes more sense to try and make it a part of our daily lives instead!