Being Thankful & Grateful

BY ELIZABETH DEAL

As the leaves fall around us and Thanksgiving approaches, we will likely begin thinking about what we are thankful— and grateful—for. But we should all try to stay on this road past November. Practicing gratitude has been touted for increasing overall well-being, from improving health, sleep, and relationships to developing a more positive outlook in general. Here are a few ways to do this:

Express gratitude

Say “thank you” whenever you should, to family, friends, colleagues, employees, and others that cross your path. And consider an unexpected handwritten thank you note to a person for something they did for you or said to you that has made a difference in your life. It doesn’t matter how long ago the event took place; they’ll appreciate it.

Notice and enjoy the simple things

We would probably all notice the gift of a shiny new car, but what about the sun shining? What about the little things that make our days easier or brighter? People find joy in all different ways, from nature to exercise to friendly conversation. Try to find something small to enjoy each day.

Think gratefully

When you take time to think about all the good people and opportunities (and yes, even the material things) in your life, there’s no time to think about what you don’t have. Think back to how you got where you are. It’s never too late for us to be grateful for our first job or the friend who long ago introduced us to our spouse.

Do for others

True, helping other people is rewarding. Are you grateful for your ability to help? If you can walk, talk, think, smile, push, pull, drive, or carry, then you have many assets to be grateful for. An added bonus: kindness begets kindness.

Acknowledge what you are grateful for

Every day is a good day to think of 1-3 things you are grateful for: people, places, accomplishments, outings, food, scenery, comfort, and the list goes on. To truly benefit, write them down so you can reflect and recall later— any journal or notebook will do. This practice just may help you become more and more grateful for smaller and smaller things.

Start a Thanksgiving Tradition!

Around the dinner table, ask each person to state what they are most grateful for, over the past year. The answers may bring laughs or tears, but you’re guaranteed to learn a lot!