This is the time of year that we gather with our friends and family, eat turkey, watch the Macy’s parade, watch football and give thanks for our abundance. Sure, sometimes that list can vary, as some of us don’t like football or maybe we don’t eat meat but the one constant that remains, at least for that day, is the “attitude of gratitude.”
Recent scientific studies show that those who are able to express gratitude are both healthier and happier than those who cannot. These studies also show that those who can most readily recognize the good things in their lives are more compassionate in their interactions with others.
But what if outside of Thanksgiving, an “attitude of gratitude” is not your default? Is gratitude something we are born with or can it be taught? Are there things we can do to improve this part of ourselves?
In a word, yes.
Try the following to exercise your gratitude muscles:
- Make a daily list of three things in your life for which you are thankful. If this is difficult for you, start making a weekly list and work up to daily.
- Say something positive or do something positive every day. Hold the door open for a stranger. Compliment a co-worker. Let someone in front of you in traffic. (You get the idea.)
- Make a list of things you appreciate about yourself and place it somewhere where you will see it every day.
Once you feel comfortable flexing your gratitude muscles, expand this regimen to your family. Ask your children at the dinner table or in the car to share something positive they did that day or something positive they experienced. Challenge your child to say three nice things about each family member. You can turn it into a game, such as one family member will give positive clues about another family member and the rest of the family has to guess who they are talking about. The possibilities are endless. Use your imagination!
Another thing that improves gratitude? Volunteering. Yes, volunteering.
In Louisville, last year nearly 18,000 volunteers provided over $5 million in service to the community.
Interested in increasing the compassion level of the city, increase your own feelings of gratitude and most importantly help out your fellow citizens?
Go to the Louisville Metro Government website to find available volunteering opportunities in the community.
This year, don’t reserve gratitude for just one day. Make it a year-round habit for you and your family.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Sarah Nicholl