Can Being Thankful Really Make You Happier?
Thankful. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot, especially this time of year, and for good reason, Thanksgiving is in two days! I love that our country values the meaning of thankfulness so much that we’ve dedicated an entire holiday to it. The reason for the holiday is a bit more symbolic these days, as I’m suspecting most of you aren’t harvesting your own Thanksgiving dinner, but the meaning behind the day is still very applicable.
It’s easy to be thankful and grateful for everything you have during the holidays. There’s so much focus on it, especially when you realize others have so little. But how often do you give thanks on the other 364 days of the year? Do you write notes or call someone to tell them thank you? Or even take a moment in your day to think about the things you’re grateful for?
It’s hard, no doubt. Why? Because we get caught up in work, our social calendars and life in general and focus on the things that aren’t working for us instead of the positives. Sometimes I find myself feeling grumpy or down in the dumps for no real reason at all, and when that happens, there’s only one thing that always makes me feel better.
It’s a small thing, but boy is it powerful. I usually practice this little routine during my morning walks with Oliver. Whether it’s blustery and snowy or sunny and warm, being outdoors and taking a few minutes to intentionally be thankful for something is a serious mood, confidence and self-esteem booster. Not a bad way to start your morning, right? And I’m not just talking about the big stuff, because if you focus on the same overarching themes everyday—family, friends, job, etc.—it gets monotonous.
So, I try to think of specific things I’m thankful for—a husband with a calm demeanor, a friend who’s encouraged me to try something new, a chance encounter with an acquaintance on the street that left me in a great mood, a specific conversation that made me feel loved, sisters that I can trust with anything. The list could go on and on. The trick is looking a little harder to find them.
Some days it’s a challenge to think of something new, but it’s one I really enjoy. Actively looking for the good in my life and saying thanks for it, even if it’s just in my head, makes me realize that there’s more goodness and happiness around me than I sometimes like to think. Giving thanks, is also one of the easiest way to turn a crappy situation around, take the ‘bad job’ scenario for example. Maybe you dislike your job. It’s not fulfilling, it doesn’t pay as much as you’d like (does it ever?!), and it’s squashing your creativity and passion, but—this part is key—but, it does allow you to support your family, and the hours are flexible, so you get home at a reasonable hour to spend time with them. That last part is definitely something to be thankful for, right?
While giving thanks may not change your situation, it can change your perspective and your attitude, and that right there is half the battle. Going into each day with a thankful heart makes me happier and more calm and it’s a practice that I aim to do everyday, not just on Thanksgiving.
But since Thanksgiving is almost here, I wanted to say a quick thank you to all of you. Writing this blog has become one of my biggest sources of happiness over the past year, and having people around the world read what I have to say is a miracle. You gals (and guys) may not realize it, but your comments, your likes, your emails and simply reading what I have to say brings me so much joy and fulfillment. I’m so grateful for each and every one of you. So, thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of this little community—you’re truly amazing!
So, tell me, What’s something specific that you’re thankful for today? How can you take negative situations and find the good in them?
photography by Jules Kennedy