As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it’s now official: gratitude is good for you. Recent scientific studies have indicated that people who express gratitude to friends, family, and other people important in their lives were more optimistic and had a better attitude; there were even indications that their gratitude led to better health and fewer visits to the doctor. However, despite best efforts, gratitude often gets lost in the rush of hectic Thanksgiving gatherings. Everyone is too busy buying turkeys in crowded supermarkets, tidying up the house before guests arrive, and preparing new and challenging recipes to be grateful.
It doesn’t have to be that way! This Thanksgiving, you can have a great family gathering AND still take time to embrace what the holiday is all about. Here are five ways to rock the gratitude challenge this Thanksgiving.
1. Write It Down
If you want to be mindful of what you’re grateful for in your life, take the time to write it down. A gratitude journal – and the time you set aside to write in it each week – can help you focus on the things in your life that make a difference and for which you’re thankful. You can start your journal in the weeks before Thanksgiving; purchasing a notebook right after Halloween would work just fine for this. Once you have your journal, allocate an hour or so every week to sit down and jot down three or four things for which you’re grateful. You’ll be surprised by the impact this simple act has as well as how it helps you meet the gratitude challenge.
2. Do Something Good
Another great way to rock the gratitude challenge this Thanksgiving is to have a positive impact on your community. It’s easy to give back this time of year. For example, you could volunteer your time at a nonprofit organization that’s helping people in your city, such as a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. You could also contribute to a benevolent organization, such as providing canned goods or donating a meal to nonprofits that support less fortunate people during the holiday season. Nonprofits often rely heavily upon volunteers and donors at this time of year, so giving your time and effort can make a real difference. Moreover, helping others will give you a chance to reflect on all the goodness of the people in your life so that you can be more grateful for everything you have.
3. Keep It Simple and Ask for Help
One of the best things you can do to stay focused on gratitude this Thanksgiving is to go back to the basics and get support from the people in your life. If you’re hosting family and friends for your Thanksgiving meal, resist the urge to go overboard with food, drink, and decorations. After all, most guests are happy and satisfied with a simple but classy affair, so don’t make things hard by trying to do too much. When it comes to dinner and home preparations, don’t go it alone. Ask your guests if they can bring a side dish or dessert to add to the meal and take some of the cooking burden off you. You should also try to get some help with getting your house ready; if you have a significant other and children, enlist them to tidy up while you’re doing the food prep. Keeping the holiday simple and classy will lower the stress factor considerably, and help you stay focused on being grateful for your life and all the wonderful people in it.
4. Express Your Gratitude with Words
One of the toughest obstacles in the gratitude challenge is telling the people in your life you’re thankful they’re there. After all, many people have trouble expressing feelings. However, Thanksgiving is the best time of the year to set all that awkwardness aside and let people know you’re thankful for them. Take the time at your Thanksgiving celebration to express your gratitude to your friends and family; doing so around the dinner table can make the meal special. If important people in your life couldn’t make the holiday gathering, set aside a few minutes to make a call, or send a letter letting them know how thankful you are for them. Giving thanks to your loved ones is in the best tradition of the Thanksgiving holiday; additionally, expressing gratitude can help you feel better about yourself and improve your relationships with the most important people in your life.
5. Do Something with the People You Care About
While a holiday meal and gathering is fun, a great way to rock the gratitude challenge this Thanksgiving is by actually doing something with the people in your life that you care about. Living in the moment with your family and friends is a great way to express your gratitude and appreciate those who are important to you. So, while you have everyone gathered for the holidays, consider doing something fun together. For example, there are usually charity runs on Thanksgiving morning that you can all participate in together. Perhaps your family and friends can have a blast playing a friendly game of touch football in your backyard after you finish the turkey. A simple walk in the fall woods with family and friends can be a memorable way to celebrate the holiday together, too. Regardless of how you do it, spending some quality time with your friends and family is a wonderful way to express gratitude for them, and feel thankful in your own heart as well.
You can pass the gratitude challenge this Thanksgiving and find the time to be thankful for everything you have. Just follow these tips, minimize the stress that comes with the fast-paced holiday season, and get ready to share everything you’re grateful for with your family and friends this Thanksgiving!