Happiness research reveals there are several strategies for well, being happy. But on the eve of Thanksgiving, we wanted to find out what role being grateful for plays in happiness.
Those we spoke with were especially grateful for family and friends, of course, but how do you show your gratitude this season?
Perform random acts of kindness
Whether it’s buying the person standing in line behind you a cup of coffee, helping shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk, or doing preparing a week’s worth of healthy meals for your grandparents—there are so many little ways to pass the good onto others. Be sure to invite your friends to join you and feel grateful for being in a position to help others. They are sure to bring smiles to everyone’s faces.
Send a handwritten card to an old friend or relative. Most likely, not everyone in your family or friend circle will be sitting around the same Thanksgiving table this year. Whether you have an aging relative who can’t fly anymore or a mentor that has helped shape your life, tell them—but skip that email. A handwritten note will not only make this person feel extra special but also it will be a welcome surprise at the mailbox.
Offer a personalized gift
Depending on who this person is, you could loan your work friend one of your favorite books with a note inside telling them what you love most about the story or the book’s author. If you are a painter or have a local pottery shop, gifting something handmade by you has the dual benefit of feeling grateful for your talents and gifts as well as gifting them to someone special in your life.
Give your time
Unless you’re retired, giving the gift of your time and energy is a huge commitment. Especially if you have children. Find creative ways to volunteer will make those you serve feel especially grateful for your help. If you have teens, serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless with a local community group. If you have young children, offer to take your friend’s kids for an overnight or afternoon playdate.
You can also help an organization like Meals on Wheels who need volunteers to deliver turkey dinners to home-bound seniors.
Create a gratitude jar
This simple endeavor offers a big return. Ask each person at your Thanksgiving table write down one thing they’re thankful for this year on a slip of paper, and then take turns sharing. Afterward, fill a decorated mason jar with everyone’s responses to see the wealth of thankfulness at your holiday table.
Incorporate your family gratitude jar into your centerpiece—and as a bonus, consider saving the jar (and responses!) for the following year to see how your family’s gratitude grows and changes year-by-year.
November marks the beginning of what for many is a busy and sometimes stressful holiday season. Remember to practice gratitude daily for even the simple things like a cozy moment around the fireplace or a kind gesture from a stranger.
Thanksgiving season can positively lift the spirits, and it’s built right into the holiday — expressing gratitude.