Show Your Gratitude & Become Happier
As we approach Thanksgiving, it’s worth taking a moment to think about giving thanks.
This shouldn’t be just one day a year. It should be an everyday part of your life.
There are many ways that you might consider showing thanks to others, and being thankful within ourselves, for all the great things in our lives.
It can also be a hugely uplifting practice - by becoming more aware of the things in your life which are worth giving thanks for, you will become a happier person.
Here are five ways to give thanks that you should consider:
Volunteering your time allows you to give back to the World, and the community around you. You might be able to help people who are out of work, care for abandoned animals, give company to the elderly, help children who are lost in the system, regenerate a piece of land, or one of many other ideas.
Becoming a mentor to a child is a particularly worthwhile pastime. You can change an entire life by giving a child an opportunity to learn a musical instrument, to speak a new language, to understand mathematics, or even to play football.
The environment we live in gives us life. The least that all of us can do, to say thank you, is give something back. People travel hundreds of miles to help out when there is an oil spill, which is an amazing thing to do. But there doesn’t need to be a disaster for you to get out into nature and giving, freely, your time and energy.
You could plant trees, for example, or reclaim an abandoned city space for nature. Many natural parks also take on volunteers to protect the wilderness.
2. Random acts of kindness
This is a fun way to shout out ‘thank you’ to the World!
It’s the bit where Scrooge buys the biggest goose in the shop for the Cratchits.
Perhaps you can randomly pay for a stranger’s coffee. Buy ice-cream for all the office. Get your cat a new toy.
Why not put up a lemonade (or beer!) stand in your front garden, and give drinks away. You will make people happy, and might make some new friends.
Give your neighbor a surprise gift - leave them a potted plant, rake up the leaves from their garden, or bake a pie.
Give a phone call, or pay a surprise visit, to share time with a friend or a family member who you haven’t talked to in a long time. I know I have many I would love to call, but never seem to make the time. A good way to overcome that is to make it part of your routine, why not pick up the phone after supper every night and call somebody? Give them a nice surprise.
There are lots of crazy ideas for random acts of kindness - if you have had an experience, or maybe you do something fun, please tell us in the comments section.
3. Keep a journal
Write a daily journal, and include at least one thing which has made you happy and you are grateful for. If it’s been a crappy day, it could be as simple as the air we breathe, or the chance to relax and write in a journal!
The co-founder of Beckett Simonon, Nicholas Hurtado, keeps a journal every day. He follows a plan, called The Five Minute Journal. He told me:
I started journaling not too long ago, a year or so ago. The Five Minute Journal has a part where you write three things you’re grateful for. It’s a rather simple system, but it encourages you to think about the essential things in your life.
I’ve noticed that after a while of journaling regularly, you start developing the habit of actively thinking more about those things you’re grateful for. When I started, oftentimes what first came to mind were “big” things, like milestones at work or possessions (material things).
Over time, I started adding other more profound things. For example, I realized I’m incredibly thankful for having a functional mind and body. Also, things like having access to clean water and food. Most of us understand those things are valuable; however, we rarely stop to think how lucky we are for them.
Then, as I practiced, those things became even more specific. Instead of writing, “I’m grateful for my family,” I started writing things like, “I’m grateful I can hear my father’s voice.” During that period, my father had a throat illness, and the doctors couldn’t diagnose what he had. Acknowledging how grateful I was in that moment, even with lots of uncertainty and in a hard time, allowed me to be more present and support him in a more positive light.
As a consequence, a gratitude journal made me realize that at any moment, my life circumstances can change. It’s hard to take anything for granted after doing this simple gratitude exercise for a while. It forces you to appreciate the things you have in the present moment. Also, I’ve noticed as you start increasing your awareness of those things, you become more vocal about them, so that has a good impact on the people around you.
4. Give thanks before eating
Our food is amazing. It is a wonderful part of our life - it gives us life and gives us pleasure.
Many cultures have the tradition of taking a moment to ‘give thanks’ before we eat. It does not have to be connected to any belief. Stop for a moment to think about where the food has come from - the wonder of nature, all the work of the farmers, the ranchers, and the people who cooked it - and be thankful.
I always try to take a moment to think about any animal that died to become part of my meal. Eating beef, I don’t want to forget that a cow was killed to put that bolognaise on my plate.
Often, people use this moment not only to give thanks for their food, but also for their family, friends, and for the good things that have happened in their lives.
It is a chance to say thank you out loud, something that I know I don’t do enough.
Saying thanks every day at this point makes it part of our routine (and less likely to be forgotten about).
My mother’s culture is famous for its long graces. Some speak so long that the food is stone cold by the end, and there are a lot of uncomfortable bums. I’m not sure that I could advocate that, but a short and sweet thank you never hurt anybody!
Check out my blog about slowing down your food for this and other ideas about appreciating your daily fare.
5. Write personal notes
A handwritten note is a beautiful way to give thanks.
At Thanksgiving meals, many families go around the table telling each other what we are grateful for. Why not put it in writing?
You could write letters to all the friends you wish might have attended Thanksgiving. Or make it a routine - write one letter to somebody you care for every weekend.
Or even scribble a post-it note and stick to the fridge to say thank you to somebody.
It doesn’t even have to be read by anybody - you could address a letter to your dog, to the world, to your god, or perhaps even to yourself. This process will make you aware of things that matter, and things to be grateful for.
Consider putting notes to all your loved ones in a safe-box, or alongside your will and testament. Seal them to be opened after your death. These will be treasured forever by the people you write to. The process will also remind you to treasure these people while you still can.
So, thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for taking the time to consider these ideas, and for all the times you’ve acted with gratitude before. Thank you for being part of a caring group of people. And thank you for any comments you leave me!
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for upcoming posts.
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