This week we celebrated Thanksgiving in the USA. Most people living outside of the USA know about Thanksgiving as a day in which families and friends gather to consume way too much turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie before relaxing for hours in front of the TV watching football, with the day often ending in a bitter fight among drunken family and friends. All kidding aside, while that scene sometimes plays out, it usually only occurs after we have shared with each other what we are thankful for.
Many countries including Canada, China, Brazil, and Korea have a similar day of gratitude. Expressing gratitude all year round and not just on one day can improve one’s physical and emotional state. Several research studies have found that when we think about someone or something that we appreciate, the feeling that goes with that thought triggers a calming sense of well-being. Expressing gratitude is good for the giver, too. The studies have found that expressing gratitude can improve cholesterol and diminish stress, depression, and anxiety, which can in turn lead to better sleep and relaxation. Gratitude is good medicine!
I often tell my family and close friends how much I appreciate them. At least, I like to think I do. It’s my work colleagues, clients, and casual acquaintances to whom I rarely express my appreciation. Perhaps it’s because my work commitments keep me quite busy, or perhaps – more likely for me – saying thank you and showing my appreciation consistently to this group requires more of a conscious effort which does not come naturally for me.
The Thanksgiving holiday is an excellent reminder for me to reach outside my comfort zone and express my thanks – not just during one week in November, but all year round and to a wider circle of folks.
I have jotted down a few ways I plan to express my gratitude – perhaps this can benefit you too.
I plan to:
There are other actions I will consider in an effort to express my gratitude in life:
To maximize the benefits of expressing gratitude, researchers have found that the best way is to choose one topic each day and write a few sentences about that topic, as opposed to making a list with specifics.
The smallest things can make all difference – in your life and others’
You just need to remember to take the time to show your gratitude and spread your kindness. The world needs it – not just this week, but all year round.