Thankful is more than a thank you card.
I recently put on a special dance that turned out wonderfully. And all of that wonderful was because so many people came forward to help make it so. Without those additional hands pulling all that extra weight, I am not sure that the night would have gone so well. For instance, one person came and put up lights that added a nice touch. Another volunteered to do marketing for the dance and another person watched the door while the dance lesson was going on. Veteran dancers were kindly helped new people join in dancing. A few other people just pitched in to do a few small things that just made the night go smoothly. While I hosted the dance, it was all of these kindnesses that made the night special.
After events like that, it is customary to post your gratitude on places like Facebook to all the people who made it happen. And you know what, doing that just makes the event even better. The positive vibes just keep rolling. The helpers get all the good vibes, everyone reflects about how fun the event was, they also get to know the people who helped make it happen, and it encourages other to step up next time.
This also serves to remind me to tell others in my life how grateful I am for their help. Because it is not just big events that require thank you's. There are a multitude of people that do so many wonderful things each and everyday that make life better. And when I take the time to acknowledge their kindness, I get to see just how great my life is. It reminds me that this world is still a beautiful place filled with generous and kind people. And that is something we all need to feel.
Because being grateful for what you have in life is one of the simplest and easiest ways to lift your mood and bring joy forward into your reality, it is also a way to boost your overall health. Being thankful can also be a motivator. It can help you remember you are not alone. And that even small kindnesses make a difference in a persons life. All good things really!
Everyday thankfulness is a little harder than a thank you for a present. However, it is being grateful to the little things each day that can bring the most joy. So how do you get started when you feel like the day has been a whirlwind of tasks and commotion?
First - Pause and take a look around.
An easy first step to being more thankful in your everyday is to pause and ask yourself two questions:
What are 1-3 things that happened in life today that you are thankful for?
Who did something, no matter how small, that was kind, helpful, or just made life a bit better?
"I am so grateful that I had enough left-overs to make breakfast fast and easy this morning."
"The lady at the gas station helped me out when I dropped my sunglasses. I am thankful she was kind enough to pick them up for me when my hands were full."
Second - Express your thankfulness and take action.
This one is easy to do when, say, someone opens a door for you. You can express your gratitude with a simple, "Thanks."
What about the times that we are not exactly trained to express thanks? Of instance, telling your friend how grateful you are that they bring laughter to your life. Or to give your gratitude to the baby sitter for spending the extra effort to pick up the kids toys before leaving.
Taking a few seconds to tell people how the little (and big things that we sometimes take for granted) kindnesses that they do make your life easier/better. Telling them will make them feel happy and special. And as their faces light up with a smile you’ll feel happier too. I like to call this a happiness circle!
Expression can come as a small sentence or gesture, but it can have a big impact on someone’s day, week or even life. So be sure to make the small effort to express it. Go ahead and make a happiness circle.
Third - Take your right hand, bend at the elbow, and now pat yourself on the back.
Appreciating yourself and being thankful for your personal qualities might the hardest task of all.
Being humble is important, but not to the point of not recognizing yourself for things like a job well done or how you treat other people or even for being good to yourself.
It could be that you were a good co-worker during a crisis last week. It could be that you finally finished a difficult task you have been struggling with. Or did something new even though you were nervous or afraid to do it.
Your self-gratitude can be about achievements or it can simply be that you are thankful for something like your good sense of humor. Whatever it is, really look at yourself as if you were looking at someone else. What would you tell yourself if you were your friend?
Also the thank YOU's can be about little things too. Like, the simple fact that you floss your teeth everyday. That deserves a good ol' pat on the back. Taking good care of your health is important and thanking yourself is another good way to support your own good behavior.
Forth - Be thankful for the things you may take for granted.
The things we get used to having can become things we should be the most grateful for. Like:
A roof over my head and a warm home. Seriously, we live in Montana and heat is a big part of our everyday comfort.
Plenty of drinkable water.
Healthy food to eat everyday.
Access to technology for things like learning and connecting with people.
The money to have a night out with a friend.
A kind and loving spouse.
Space to have a garden....
Being grateful for things like these are especially helpful to put a tough situation in perspective. Or even just as a reminder that life is good.
Fifth - Plan your time of gratitude.
To make thankfulness into a daily habit, finding a regular time for it in your day is important. First thing in the morning or last thing in the evening are great times of the day to spend a few minutes in gratitude as these times are often without distraction. However, if 3pm is the best time for you, then plan your few moments at 3pm. Whenever you can make it happen, is the perfect time. Consistency is more important than the actual time.
The way you go about it is just as important as when. For some people, using a journal to jot down your thoughts on thankfulness can be helpful. It can also be a great way down the road to review your abundance. A small pocket notebook can be kept on a nightstand or carried around.
Others find that saying their gratitude out loud helpful. They record their thoughts on their cell phone with an app, tell their dog or cat, or just say them aloud in the shower. Whatever works, figure it out and plan on doing it.
Being thankful for and to the kindness of others, grateful to the comforts in your life, showing yourself kindness are not some new ages feel good goof-ball stuff.
The last 15 years of research has shown that gratitude is a key component to psychological well-being. Gratitude can help people experience feeling of happiness, improve how they feel about their relationships, and potentially even counteract depression and suicidal thoughts. Some recent research has also associated gratitude with a whole slew of physical health benefits from fewer aches and pains, less stomach problems, improved sleep, and better overall cardiovascular health.
Besides helping support better mental and physically health, gratitude may encourage people in other behaviors that help keep them healthy as well. Indeed, people practicing gratefulness report having healthier lifestyles like eating healthier foods, exercising, and not smoking.
In fact, heart attack patients to practice thankfulness adhere better to their doctors’ recommendations, and college students that practiced thankfulness weekly for 10 weeks exercise significantly more than those who do other writing activities.
So for all the feels, try adding a few moments of gratitude to your day. Be sure to practice thankfulness in action when other do something kindness or helpful. And include yourself in those that you thank. Doing so might even give you more to be thankful for like better health and happiness!
Kathi enjoys hosting dances, putting on events, teaching lessons, and generally creating activities that help other to have fun and be healthier. But she has learned that the best activity planning always has helpers. People who step up and do both big and little things are what important to making the world go round.