After the craziness of the summer, comes the craziness of back to school, which leads into the craziness of the holidays, do you see a trend here? We do too! We all lead busy lives that often lead to just putting one foot in front of the next. We have the best intentions, but time is a precious commodity, and many of those extra free minutes get lost in responding to emails or social media scrolling. It happens to all of us, even those with the best intentions!
Let’s make this month about something that offers benefits to both the recipients of our thankfulness, but also to our personal health. Gratitude has been shown to have many benefits to those that practice it regularly. It shifts your focus to the positives in any situation, and also has been proven to improve empathy, physical, and emotional health, mental strength, and even improve your ability to sleep according to a 2011 study published by Applied Psychology: Health and Well Being.
Here are a few ideas of ways to make the next month more grateful:
- Call or text a friend or colleague and specifically thank them for what they add to your life. (E.g. “Thank you for your support when my mother was sick” or “Thank you for being someone that is always a good listener”.) Not only will you brighten their day, it will make you feel good to be paying such a deep compliment.
- Teach your children gratitude by using Turkey on the Table as a family activity for the month of November. Your Thankful Feathers will act as a gratitude journal by recording what your family is thankful for. Not only will it provide a visual display of your family’s thankfulness, it will act as a centerpiece for Thanksgiving at the end of the month. Another bonus… Each purchase provides 10 meals to people in need via Feeding America. Encouraging the practice of gratitude early in life shows even more benefits, including improved mental toughness and fewer materialistic tendencies.
- Stop by a fire station, police station, or USPS office and drop off thank you note and a treat. Everyone should be grateful for the services they offer in our communities!
- Thank your husband or wife each morning or night this month for something they have done that day. Such as “Thank you for going to work today to support our family”, “Thanks for taking the kids so I could have a night out” or as simple as “Thank you for emptying the garbage”. The key to sparking healthy relationships with gratitude is to take the initiative: “Instead of just waiting for the other person to make you feel good, you can jumpstart that cycle and take it into your own hands by focusing on what’s good in your relationship,” says Dr. Amie Gordon who studied the effect of gratitude on marriage in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
- Send an email to your children’s teachers thanking them for their hard work and support in educating your child.
- Ask your kids to thank each coach after practice for their time away from their work and family to help them learn a sport.
While a month of this practice is a great start, it may not be life changing unless you stick with it. Our hope is that you see the benefits of living a life of gratitude and the “practice” of gratitude becomes a “habit” of gratitude. THAT is when the real magic happens!