THE POWER OF THANKS
As we move into the most overlooked holiday of the season, I am reminded of why I love it so much. Most retailers and advertisers try to move us quickly from Halloween straight to Christmas trees. Likely because cornucopias aren’t in high demand and don’t sell well. I prefer to take my time and enjoy the month of gratitude.
Last year I read an article (Emmons and McCullough 2003) about the relationship between gratitude and overall happiness. The results from the study were pretty convincing. Individuals who were asked to write down things they were grateful for each day over a 10 week period were significantly happier than individuals who were asked to write about neutral or negative occurrences. That was enough for me to give it a whirl. Having an accountability partner helps with this as well, that way usually one of you will remember throughout the day and can remind the other…after a few weeks it will become part of your normal routine!
Tyler and I really focused on this earlier this year (mainly when we were 584 miles apart and I would cry uncontrollably every time I had to leave him) and I am committed to getting back on this thankful train. Every morning I would text him with 3 things I was grateful for. Not only did this help us get to know each other better in our early dating stages, but it also made me open my eyes daily to all the blessings, big and small, I have right in front of me. Some days the lists were more profound, “I am thankful for a supportive family and loving partner," other days they were just real honest and typically overlooked, “today I am thankful for coffee and hairbrushes."
As the weeks went on, it became more challenging to think of new things, but it created a reason for me to really think about it. It DID make me happier overall. I didn’t always immediately focus on the negative in situations. I purposefully focused on what I was thankful for in that situation, no matter how bad it seemed or felt at the time.
I have so much to be thankful for everyday, and I am sure you do too. Human nature leads us to dwell on the negative, but you can combat that with gratitude. Psychologist Shawn Achor notes that over a 21 day period you can press the “reset” button for your mindset so that you are more optimistic. There is no better time than the present to set that reset button and start getting grateful.
I am committing to getting filled with thanks this month through a daily gratitude list (I like to do 3 things each day). I’ll share day one with y’all and hope it will inspire you to find gratitude throughout this month, even in impossible circumstances (see: Mondays).
Today I am thankful for:
1. Tyler (I can admit I cannot live without this human)
2. My family – the most supportive and loving people I know (and steadfast through all of my follies)
3. Church E. Bear – the pup who taught me how to love so fully
Day one is typically the easiest and most obvious, but stick with it even when you feel stretched! I'll report back throughout the month so you can see what other creative things I find to be grateful for.
P.S. Research by Sonja Lyubomirsky shows that displaying acts of kindness also boosts happiness! What a perfect month to be grateful for everything you have, and share kindness with those with less…and gain HAPPINESS while doing it!
What are you thankful for today?!