by Elyse Wild
It’s that time of year—the chill in the air is no longer impending, sweaters come out of the closet and invitations for festive gatherings fly through the post. Here we are, perched before the sweeping rush of the holidays. Along with gift giving and merrymaking, this month draws to the surface the morals we hope to live by all year long, with one in particular leading the charge: gratitude.
Having an attitude of gratitude not only feels good, but science shows us that it’s good for us. In a study conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis and the University of Miami, participants were placed into three groups and given journals. One group was asked to share five things they were grateful for during the past week while another group was directed to describe five negative occurrences from the previous week. Fast-forward ten weeks: The gratitude group was a whopping 25 percent happier than the group asked to focus on the negative.
As you give thanks around the table this month, consider the following ways of cultivating a practicing of appreciation all year round.
Keep a journal next to your bed. Begin and end each day by taking note of what you’re grateful for: Try not to start with the big things and instead focus on the small, for it is the small things that comprise our daily lives. For the first week, start with three things you’re thankful for each morning and evening: the softness of your comforter, the cat curled up at the foot of your bed, the way your favorite pen feels just right on your notepad or the warmth of your morning coffee. The next week, write five things, and the week after that, write ten.
Place reminders of gratitude at the entrance to your home and office: “Begin each day with a grateful heart.” , “Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot.”, “Gratitude turns what you have into enough.” Whether you paint it on a decorative board or write it out and frame it to hang above your doorway, the tangible prompts to approach your day with appreciation will help you do just that.
Show gratitude to those around you the good ‘ol fashion way: thank you notes. Stock up on stationary and buy a batch of gift cards ($5 to a lovely local coffee shop or book store) and stash it in a box. Commit to pull out your kit once a week (Grati-Tuesday, anyone?) and make a card for one person you appreciate: your mailman, your mom, a co-worker or a friend. Your note can be as simple as, “Thank you for being awesome!” or as specific as, “Thank you for always making sure we have enough coffee in the office!” These expressions of gratitude will brighten a person’s day like nothing else while strengthening your relationships.
Be sure to express thanks to the people behind the services you enjoy. When you pick up your lunch, pay for your gas or grab a morning latte, look the person behind the counter in the eye and say, “Thank you, I appreciate it!” Further, cultivate a culture of thanks in your home. It can be easy for the little things your partner does to keep your household running smoothly to fade into the peripheral. Make a point to notice when the dishes are done, the recycling is brought out or the pets are fed and say, “Thank you, darling! I appreciate when you (fill in the blank).”