As we enter the Holiday season (kicked off by Thanksgiving), most people find a bit of a tug at their hearts… All those Hallmark cards seem to bring a tear to your eye that much quicker. And yet, after the Holidays are over, it’s back to our normal ungrateful selves where we easily become overwhelmed by the problems and concerns of everyday life.
But, just stop and consider what our lives would be like if we donned our Pollyannaish attitude every day of the year – of course that’s unrealistic (not to mention a revolting idea), but to make being thankful more often a normal part of our existence could make this a happier world -- and you a healthier person -- for studies have definitely shown that “grateful people are happier, healthier, and better able to withstand hardship.” (Kim Painter, USA Today)
So here are some tips for becoming more grateful today and every day:
- Create a Grateful Ritual. Close your eyes and take a couple of minutes to think of the people and things that you are grateful for, including loved ones and friends in your life.
- Send a thank-you note. You know, it’s nice to get a little note thanking you for something you did. You don’t need to send someone a formal thank-you card (although that’s a nice touch), but just a little note (or e-mail) saying thank you for a specific thing the person has done for you can go a long way. And it only takes minutes.
- Give a free hug. Often we can go too long without showing our affection and gratitude, even to those who are closest to us. Don’t neglect this important part of your relationship.
- Give thanks for today. You don’t even have to thank a person…you can thank life itself! Wake up and greet the day with gratitude. Be thankful you’re alive!
- Do someone a free favor. Without expecting anything in return, do something nice for someone. Just something small. Get them a drink or a coffee, do a chore for them, offer to do an errand; anything they’d appreciate. Think of what that person likes, wants or needs, and try to do something to help them. Actions speak louder than words, and doing something nice will show you’re grateful more than just saying it.
- Give a little gift. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but a little gift can be a tremendous gesture.
- Give someone a list of all they’ve done that you’re grateful for. Take five minutes and make a list of 10 to 50 things you love about someone, or things they’ve done for you that you appreciate.
- Acknowledge them publicly. Who doesn’t love public praise? Find a way to acknowledge the contributions of someone (to show your gratitude) in a public way…in your office, among friends and family, on your blog, or even in your local newspaper.
- Surprise them with kindness. Similar to number five above, but with a twist – add a surprise to it. For example, make your spouse a dinner when they least expect it. Put a little note in your child’s lunch box so she sees it at lunch while she is in school. Get
- Say thanks even for negative things in your life. This is the hard part, truth be told. When things go wrong, when you’re not happy, when people are mean to us, when we are worn down by the millions of slings and arrows of everyday life…we don’t want to say thank you. But in truth, this is the time when it matters the most. If you’ve mastered the first 9 items on this list, you’re ready to master this one.
Words can lose their meaning when said too often or without feeling. Allow yourself to truly feel thankful for what you have in your life, so that when you are ready to thank others for what they have done to help you (or what they have done to help others), your words will ring true with meanings from your heart. You’re in a giving and caring business…Don’t ever forget why you decided to give something back to others – it is because of what you have received from them that makes you want to be grateful. So, show your gratitude…Start today!
(The list of ten items above is from a post as part of the Season of Gratitude hosted on Balanced Life Center at www.zenhabits.net.)