Show Gratitude on Thanksgiving and Every Day

Posted: November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. It began hundreds of years ago as a way to give thanks for a good harvest. Today, we may not gather to celebrate a bountiful harvest, but we can show gratitude on Thanksgiving and every day.

     There are many benefits to being grateful and having a good attitude. According to Utah State University Extension, one study found that grateful people are more likely to help others, exercise and complete their personal goals. They also tend to be more determined, optimistic, and alert, and have energy and enthusiasm.
     If you would like to be more grateful or would like to cultivate gratitude in others, here are some ideas from Utah State University Extension for ways to develop gratitude:
     * Express thanks through writing. Keep a journal or notebook where you can record those things you are grateful for every day. Even after a stressful day, it can be soothing to review the day in your mind and point out on paper the bright spots or highlights. Not only will you feel more at ease after a long day, but it will likely give you an improved ability to keep things in perspective.
     * Take time to reflect on things for which you are thankful. Maybe writing in a journal isn’t for you. If not, spend a few minutes sitting in a quiet place and think about and appreciate what you have and those around you.
     * Tell others thank you. If you’ve ever been accused of not expressing appreciation, it’s not too late to change. Even if you have to make a note and stick it in several places to remind you to do it, people in your life need to need to know you appreciate them and you notice their efforts.
     * Show thanks. Even though you may still have expenses like car payments and a mortgage, don’t forget those less fortunate than you. Find ways to donate time, money or service to ease the burden of those who have less than you. During the holidays, there are ample opportunities to help those in need. Whether you take food to a local food pantry, offer to put up Christmas lights for a neighbor who is disabled or participate in sponsoring a family through a local charitable organization, reach out and do something. Helping others is a great way to show you are grateful for what you have and that you want to share it.
         Show gratitude each day and not just on Thanksgiving.  Start today to give thanks. Doing so will surely bring you happiness and fulfillment.

Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension in Lackawanna County.