Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
-William Arthur Ward
As I was eating a little too much pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, I started thinking about my gift list for the holidays. Now, normally, thinking about all those presents would stress me out— but Thanksgiving is a special time when we are made more aware of our blessings, and at this moment a feeling of gratitude washed over me instead. “I am so grateful,” I realized, “to even have a gift list for people who love me as much as I love them, not to mention for all this good food to eat” (because is there really such a thing as too much pumpkin pie?). Take it from me, cultivating a mindset of gratitude is a great way to reduce stress and lead a happier, calmer life.
…or don’t take it from me! Research on gratitude has shown that people who are grateful are more compassionate and more satisfied with life.
So, how can you increase your gratitude?
It starts with attitude.
What kinds of things do you say to yourself? Do you say, “I have to go to work on Monday?” Or do you say, “I get to go to work on Monday?” When you get to do something, it changes your thought pattern to remind you how fortunate you are to have a job.
Your behaviors also play into a gratitude mindset. How are you demonstrating that you are grateful for good health, a job, etc.? All of these can be small changes that have a big impact.
Here’s an easy pre-New Year’s resolution for this holiday season: try a gratitude experiment and see what happens. Here are some ideas for to get you started:
- Make a daily gratitude list before you go to sleep at night
- Do something kind for someone each day
- Send a thank you note
- Volunteer and serve others
- List out 10 (or more) things that you like about yourself
- Create a ‘joy jar’. Keep a container where you and your family can write down things that they are grateful for throughout the year. Next year at this time, you will have a year of gratitude to revisit!
When we’re overwhelmed by feelings of unhappiness or loneliness, it can be very difficult to feel gratitude. Sometimes it helps to talk. If you’re suffering, don’t feel alone! Call your EAP.