Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day when those of us who are lucky get to sit down with our families and (maybe awkwardly) go around the table and say what we’re grateful for. And although it can sometimes be hard to give voice to your gratitude when you’re put on the spot, all the research tells us that regularly practicing gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.
So, once the dishes are done – and you can be extra grateful if someone else did them! – and the day has passed, here are a few more ways to establish a regular practice of gratitude.
- Write a letter to say thanks. Martin Seligman suggests writing a note to someone who did something nice for you, perhaps even long ago, and delivering it in person. If that’s too much, even a heartfelt text can do the trick! Let someone know that you are grateful for them and what they bring to your life.
- Start your day with good thoughts. Don’t want to write it down? No problem! Each morning when you wake up, think of one thing you’re grateful for. It could even be your alarm clock that keeps you from being late for work! But starting your day with good thoughts can get you off on the right foot.
- Appreciate your partner. Relationship expert John Gottman says that ‘intentional appreciation’ is one of many types of positive interactions that strengthen marriages. His research suggests that in order to maintain a healthy, happy marriage, positive interactions should outnumber negative ones five to one. So find a way to thank your partner for something today!
- Empower your team with gratitude. Everyone likes their work to be appreciated, but research shows expressing gratitude for your colleagues can improve everything from engagement to office culture to productivity. So boost team morale by telling those around you how much you value them and their work.
- Make a silver linings playbook. Bad things happen and life can be annoying. All the gratitude in the world won’t make that untrue! However, try shifting your paradigm. Next time you get frustrated, try to think about some piece of the situation your are grateful for. Stuck in traffic? Be grateful you have access to reliable transportation. Tired of bad weather? Be grateful you don’t have to live outside in it, and can take refuge in your warm house. If you can flip the script even a few times a day, you’ll start experiencing some of the benefits of gratitude.
If all of this feels too overwhelming, just start with one small task each day to bring a bit more gratitude into your life. And I will express my gratitude to all of you for being on this journey with me, and for taking the time to invest in yourself. I am truly blessed!