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Thanksgiving: 5 Ways to Gratitude

Turn That Frown Upside Down

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, most of us are a frantic mess, worrying about getting our turkeys stuffed, dressing cranberried, and yams…yammed. During the time of year when our thoughts are supposed to specifically center on everything for which we are grateful, it seems like all we can really think about are potential disasters.

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If you are anything like me, and the majority of the seven billion people on earth, you pay way more attention to things that go wrong than to the those that go right. Most of my stories are littered with life events that went horrendously awry (that one time in high school when I tripped and fell in front of the entire varsity football team, when I was 14 and passed out at a family gathering because I thought all those pina coladas I was drinking were non-alcoholic, or when I ran into a glass door and ended up with 20 stitches on my knee) as opposed to situations that were seamless accomplishments (still trying to think of one).

You probably do the same. Don’t rush to criticize yourself just yet, because research tells us that there are several physical and psychological reasons for why we focus more on the negative than the positive.

Research also tells us, however, that the expression of gratitude can make us feel better. According to the Harvard Mental Health Newsletter, two psychologists, Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami and Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, have conducted much of the research done on gratitude. Their findings suggest that people who consciously make an effort to think, write, or talk about gratitude usually are more optimistic and feel better about their lives. They have healthier relationships, visit the doctor less, and are, in general, just more awesome people.

So, for just right now, put down the turkey baster, take a deep breath, and be mindful about gratitude.

While you’re doing that, I’m just going to leave these gratitude tips right here.

Thank-You Notes

People LOVE receiving thank you notes. I know this because I am one of these people. Brighten up someone’s day (and your own) by sending a thank-you letter, card, or email. Feel free to write me one while you’re at it. And then I’ll send you one for sending me one. It will be amazing. Trust me on this.

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Keep a Gratitude Journal

Take a few moments out of your day to write down the things for which you are grateful. You can share them with close friends and loved ones or keep them as your personal mementos.

Commit to Gratitude

Sometimes, we have to give ourselves a stern lecture about changes we have to make. Make a vow to yourself (#andtherestoftheworld) that you will not complain, gossip, or criticize for a certain period of time. (I would suggest one week, but we can start with baby steps. Try one day). Become aware of how much time you spend being negative and begin to dedicate some of that time to being grateful. If you slip, don’t worry. Just get back on your horse named Rise Above, and giddy on up.

Pray/Meditate

Take some time in your day to pray or be extra mindful about the good parts of your life. This exercise in positivity can help center you and bring you closer to your spiritual self.

Fake It (Until You Make It)

Do you feel like there is nothing in your life for which you should be thankful? Fair enough. Just saying the words “thank you,” even if you do not particularly mean them, can get you in the habit of being more aware of your environment and the positive (it only takes just one) events that take place.

And remember: great + attitude = gratitude. (I think I just made that up. Maybe. You’re welcome.)

How do you show your gratitude?

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