Giving Thanks Series: The Many Benefits of Practicing an Attitude of Gratitude

giving thanks at thanksgiving and sharing gratitude

Thanksgiving is the time of year when we gather together with our friends and family for a feast. There’s a popular tradition where everyone seated at the table takes turns expressing their gratitude about someone or something in our lives.  Whether it’s something as simple as having plenty of good food to eat, a roof over our heads or assistance that allows us to maintain our independence with a disability, there are actually many benefits to living with an attitude of gratitude throughout our daily lives.

According to experts, recognizing our thankfulness and expressing this gratitude offers many health benefits to those who vocalize their thanks. “It literally breathes new life into us,” stated Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California Davis and the founder of a research lab that studies the effects of grateful living. “It recharges and it rejuvenates,” continued Dr. Emmons.

Benefits of Appreciation in Relationships

Openly showing our gratitude was linked to lowering blood pressure, improving immune functions and decreases stress. Dr. Emmon further suggests our gratitude should go deeper into our family’s roots when he shared, “I think that a reflection of how our lives have been made so much more comfortable by the sacrifices of those who have come before us down through the generations should be the focus of how Thanksgiving should be observed.”

In our current relationships, Sara Algoe, associate professor of social psychology at the University of North Carolina adds, “When couples express gratitude for frequently and descriptively to each other, they are happier in their relationship.” Professor Algoe also delves deeper when she suggests, “It’s putting the ‘you’ in ‘thank you’ that really matters, it’s the little pat where you’re really calling out the person for the thing they did.”

Post Holidays and More

During November, we also show our gratefulness to our servicemen and women on Veteran’s Day. However, we shouldn’t be expressing our thanks during just this short period of time. Dr. Emmons’ study found those who took time weekly to reflect on what they’re thankful for had less physical illnesses and spent more time focusing on their health.

Being grateful doesn’t necessarily mean sharing our thanks verbally, it may also take on a written form that we can reflect on later in life. Author, philanthropist and television personality Oprah Winfrey recommends keeping a gratitude journal and writing in it daily. At one time in her life, the celebrity wondered why she “No longer felt the joy of simple moments.”

Writing and Delighting

At a time in her life when she had accumulated more of almost everything, wealth, possessions, opportunities, it seemed everything had grown exponentially except for her happiness. After returning viewing and writing in her thankful journal daily after a lengthy departure from this practice, she shared the positive aspects she had found. “I just made gratitude a daily priority,” Oprah shared, “I went through the day looking for things to be grateful for, and something always showed up.”

When following Winfrey’s line of thinking, whenever you recognize a grateful moment in your life be sure to jot it down whether it’s on paper or electronically. “You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.”

Daily Recognition

If writing things down either daily or weekly simply isn’t in your wheelhouse, there are still ways to be grateful, recognize and offer thanks on a regular basis. Perhaps you could make a general list of all the things you’re grateful for and reviewing it often. If you’re struggling to find things to be thankful for, consider:

  • Joining a social media group grounded in gratefulness
  • Buying a book of daily or weekly positive, thankful affirmations
  • Signing up on a video channel that delivers these messages daily

Getting Inspiration From RAK

The act of performing RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) has been exploding with popularity on social media sites and other broadcasting channels. There’s even a non-profit with a website (randomactsofkindness.org), encouraging everyone to spread the cheer with unsolicited ways people show compassion in simple unexpected acts.

Performing random acts of gratuity or thankfulness (RAG or RAT) is wonderful. There are many suggestions on ways to keep RAK alive. Further, there’s one way that I have instituted RAG and RAT practices into my life. For example, when I’m at the grocery store, post office, or other outlet and I see someone who is:

  • A first responder in uniform including police officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, etc.
  • A doctor, physician with a smock or person wearing scrubs
  • Dressed in a military uniform or wearing a full set of fatigues and boots
  • Wearing a cap or T-shirt with an insignia indicating they served in a specific branch of the military, etc.

I simply walk up to them and say, “Excuse me, I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you for everything you do and want you to know it’s greatly appreciated”. Most often I shake their hand. Then, they respond by saying something like, “I’m just doing my job”. However, it always makes me feel better knowing that I’ve acknowledged them for their service.

Conclusion

In conclusion, think about the many different ways you can live your life with an attitude of gratitude. You’ll be happier and healthier in the long run. Finally, from everyone at AMS Vans, here’s wishing you, your family, and friends a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude. Happy holiday season along with a prosperous New Year. Thank YOU for reading this post!