Happy Thanksgiving. Hopefully, in between getting your legendary turkey dinner, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie on the table and watching three helpings of football, you take time to talk to your loved ones about what you’re thankful for.
Life is hectic and with the hustle and bustle of the holidays only just beginning—long lines, backordered presents, nagging relatives—it’s easy to forget all the good that happens in between. And come on, there’s a lot of good, whether it’s the little things, like the smell of fresh coffee every morning or the way the flowers bloom each May or something bigger like a promotion or child’s wedding. Giving thanks isn’t something to do once a year, it’s something to do every day. It can even boost your immune system, lower your stress levels and get you to exercise more. Pause and reflect as you devour your epic feast today, and keep the good vibes when someone steals your parking spot at the mall tomorrow with these 10 ways to express gratitude every day.
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Each night, before you go to bed, write at least one thing you are grateful for. It might be that you have a spouse that loves you even though you never remember to put the cap on the toothpaste or that you got praise from your boss for the hard work you did on a project. When times get tough, re-read old entries and make yourself write a new one even if it’s that you were strong enough to make it through a rough day.
2. Give back. Studies show that toddlers are actually happier when they give to others. Take a cue from the youngest members of your community and volunteer your time with a local organization, like a hospital, soup kitchen, Veteran’s Home, animal shelter or another organization you are passionate about. Volunteering can help you manage stress, show resilience and experience more empathy, compassion and solidarity with others. That’s five items for your gratitude journal right there.
3. Do something nice for someone, in person. Facebook, e-mail, text messages…we don’t even need to pick up a phone and actually speak to one another to communicate anymore. Instead of texting your assistant “thx for the help today” after he stayed in the office for two extra hours to help you finish a project, take him to breakfast the next day and tell him how grateful you are for his hard work.
4. Post Positive. Social media can seem like a 24-hour version of the negative morning news, with stories of tragic violence and natural disasters trending daily. After the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012, then Southern Connecticut Patch Senior Regional Editor Elissa Bass began posting a photo from her morning walk each day, calling the snap “today’s tranquility.” Her colleagues and local residents began to do the same. Take a moment each day to find the good, and share it with your friends on social media. Even if it doesn’t go viral, it’s a great way to remember there is good in the world and break up the bad news on your feed.
5. Give a larger tip. Did you have a rockstar waitress during a crowded night at a restaurant? Was the food absolutely delicious as usual? Give a 25 to 30 percent tip. A little extra doesn’t just go a long way this time of year, it goes a long way all the time. Bills never stop.
6. Take a compliment. Instead of saying, “this old thing?” when your colleague compliments your outfit, smile and say thanks. You really do look great.
7. Stop complaining. Calling all your friends and telling the same story in the same way every time something bad happens to you is likely doing more harm than good, especially if you then do it again the next day…and the next. A small amount of venting (some say 15 minutes) is fine, but then start thinking about solutions and move on. You’ll feel better, and having the maturity to work through a problem may be a learning experience you wind up being thankful for.
8. Go the extra mile. Perhaps you watch your wife dash from the breakfast table to the bus stop to work to the stove to make dinner every day. Take something off her plate by taking the kids to the bus stop or making dinner.
9. Hug someone. Hugging stimulates oxytocin, a hormone that when released promotes feelings of contentment and reduces anxiety and stress. It’s also a great way to show people you love them.
10. Find the silver lining. Maybe you’re struggling to find footing at your new job. Think about the perks, like a co-worker who has already become a good friend, the shorter commute or the flexible hours that give you more time with your kids.