It is this time of year when we are most likely to show gratitude toward others. Thanksgiving and the “good will toward others” comes in with the holiday season and puts us in the spirit, opening us up to the people, items, places, and experiences for which we are grateful.
When I was younger, we had huge Thanksgiving meals with family and friends. Each year my mother would ask everyone to say what they are thankful for, and each year I would promptly roll my eyes and spend the next few moments wishing I could hide under the table. Though I may not ask my own children to declare their gratitude publicly, we talk quite a bit about gratitude at home because I do want them to realize just how much they have to be thankful for in their lives.
Several studies show the power of gratitude, not just for adults but for kids too. When teens learn to recognize and appreciate all that they have to be grateful for, they show significant improvements in life satisfaction, happiness, positive attitudes and hope. Not only do grateful teens report higher levels of happiness, but they are less likely to use drugs or alcohol and they are less likely to have behavior problems at school.
My oldest son keeps a gratitude journal, courtesy of a recommendation from his Naturopath. People who keep gratitude journals exercise more regularly, report fewer physical symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and are more optimistic about the upcoming week.
At first you might wonder why Trista Sutter, the original Bachelorette, would write a book about the power of a grateful heart. Frankly, I did. Then I read the book. It is part autobiography, part self-help book. She talks of her own reasons for gratitude and for teaching her children to show their gratitude as well. She tells the stories that shaped her life as well as the stories of others and their reasons for being thankful. Calling herself a cross between a realist and “a hopeful optimist who attempts to live with a heart full of gratitude,” she tells relatable tales while providing ideas of actions we can take to live a life of gratitude.
And it all started with a tweet. Trista started posting her favorite moment of the day on Twitter. Her followers responded. They came to look forward to hearing about her favorite part of the day, and some even began tweeting out their own favorite moments. In just 140 characters it served as a clear reminder that we can all find a moment to be grateful for, even on the lousiest of days.
If you could use a heartwarming read or a reminder of how we can all live with gratitude, take a read of Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart.
“Gratitude keeps us happy and healthy and focused on the little things that make a big difference in our world.” So do nOt wait for that one day of the year to go around the table and share what you are thankful for with your family and friends. Instead, live everyday with a grateful heart.