With Thanksgiving right around the corner, there's a renewed focus on "giving thanks." But why should we confine this attitude to November?
Studies show that being continually thankful can increase your overall sense of well-being, and by helping to make you content, it is an integral part of the foundation for true happiness.
A recent research study done in Switzerland on 1,000 adults found that the quality of their physical health was strongly linked with gratitude, since gratitude was shown to improve their psychological health.
For most of us, a sense of gratitude is often a reaction to something positive. However, gratitude can (and most likely should) be much more than that. Feeling grateful is a choice we can all make every day, regardless of our current circumstances. When we stop looking inward and start looking outward, we can see that we all have blessings to count.
Create Dinner Activities to Express Gratitude
This Thanksgiving, we recommend incorporating an activity into the meal and festivities. During the day have each person make a list of seven things they are thankful for on a piece of notebook paper, and place the notebook sheets into a decorative box.
Before dinner, randomly distribute each sheet of paper to your family, friends and guests. At dinner each person reads the seven items and name of the author on the list they selected, creating a sense of gratitude to accompany the delicious meal.
You can also place a list at each individual's place setting, and ask each family member, friend or guest to write one reason they are grateful for that person. Ensure that everyone contributes to every list. This will give every guest a keepsake to take home and read, and also allow each guest the opportunity to express gratitude.
If you'd like to make being thankful a habit in your house, try these tips:
- Get Specific. Every night, have each child and parent say who or what they are thankful for and why. Make this routine part of your dinners together.
- Write It Down. Encourage your children to keep a gratitude journal that they write in every day. Even if they can only think of one thing they're thankful for, just the act of recognizing it and putting it on paper can increase their gratefulness.
- Make Manners Matter. The simplest way to express gratitude to others is by telling them. Enforce the "thank you" rule inside your house and out, reminding your children to sincerely thank each other, their friends, sales people, restaurant staff and the stranger holding the door.
- Revive the "Thank You" Note. Anyone can simply say "Thanks." The next time someone does something thoughtful for you or your children write them a "thank you" note. It doesn't have to be long and does not have to be on special stationary. A few heartfelt lines on plain notebook paper will mean a lot to that family member, friend or neighbor. You'll feel good about it too.