If you had to pick one holiday as your favourite, which would it be? For many Canadians, Thanksgiving is a tradition that tops them all. Spending time with friends and family, and of course serving great food, truly makes for a special day.
But giving thanks doesn't have to come just once a year - it can be something we do each and every day, with or without the turkey dinner. In fact, practicing gratitude on a regular basis can actually help you be a happier person.
Studies Support the Advantages of Gratitude
A team of psychologists recently came to this conclusion after conducting a series of studies on how gratitude can impact mental health. As reported by Harvard Medical School, one of these studies was conducted over 10 weeks and required participants to do one of three things over that period. One group was instructed to list all the things that happened over the previous week for which they were grateful, the second was asked to jot down what irritated them each day and the third to write about anything that affected them in some way, regardless of whether it was good or bad.
At the conclusion of the 10 weeks, researchers discovered the group whose participants wrote about the things they were appreciative of, reported feeling better and more optimistic about their lives in general than the other two. They also did more things proven to positively affect self-esteem and physical well-being, such as regular exercise.
Giving thanks—in the literal sense of the phrase—has also been shown to help build friendships. A 2014 study published in the journal Emotion found that when people who go out of their way to say "thank you" to acquaintances those individuals are more likely to pursue interactions further, which can establish the building blocks for a long-lasting relationship.
How Can You Give Your Daily Dose of Gratitude?
Perhaps the best part of showing gratitude—aside from helping you feel better—is it's easy to do and can be a part of your everyday life. Here are a few ways you can show thanks:
- Send thank you cards for random acts of kindness you receive, even the small things like a compliment or after a job interview.
- Maintain a journal and jot down what you're grateful for. You may even want to share your thoughts on social media over a full month.
- Perform actions that can help others experience gratitude. For example, instead of parking in a convenient space at work or the gym, leave it open so someone else can grab it.
An ancient proverb says, "the richest [person], whatever his lot, is the one who is grateful for what he's got." By demonstrating an attitude of gratitude, you'll find the true meaning of that age-old phrase.