“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” — Aesop
The Health Benefits of Gratitude
It’s amazing that the active practice of gratitude has more positive impact on some aspects of our health than prescription medication (with zero side effects!). Gratitude journaling or thoughts have been found to reduce blood pressure, alleviate depression, improve sleep, boost energy, reduce pain and motivate physical activity.
Expressing Gratitude at Thanksgiving
Some families create a Thanksgiving tree, or use a gratitude jar to remind themselves and their loved ones of their blessings in a concrete way that is easy to share.
Gratitude Jar Activity
I think this is a wonderful idea. I bought a gratitude jar from Target from $3. Everyone draws out a chip and says why they are grateful for things like a favorite teacher, a special time of day, and lots of other things I hadn’t considered being thankful for.
Counting our Blessings
It would be easy to make your own with any kind of container and slips of paper. There are plenty of similar projects online.
Here are some ideas for things to express gratitude for on Thanksgiving.
- The love and support of our family.
- The company of our friends.
- The comfort and security of our home and community.
- The efforts of our teachers.
- Our jobs.
- Our volunteer work or causes that give us purpose.
- Our faith in God or a higher power.
- Our good health.
- The companionship of our pets.
- The bounty of our Thanksgiving meal.
- Our good memories of people who have passed.
- Our challenges that help us grow.
- The dedication of our police officers, fire fighters and first responders.
- The courage of our military.
- The expertise of our doctors and people who help keep us healthy.
- The beauty of nature and the blessing of our environment.
- The luxury of time to do the things we love to do.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson
I recall two times when I was so grateful for people went out of their way to make sure I had a nice Thanksgiving when I was going through a tough time.
The first time was when my baby was in intensive care. My husband and I stayed with him all day. His prognosis was still uncertain. That day, the baby in the room next to his died after a terrible illness. We saw the young parents cradle their baby in their arms to say goodbye. My husband and I were so sad and we hadn’t eaten. When we returned home that evening, we found that our neighbors had left generous portions of their home-made Thanksgiving dinners, all wrapped up on our doorstep.
Another time, I was in bed with the flu at Thanksgiving. One of my young coworkers from Hallmark dropped by with her sister to check on me. She brought a plate of food from their family Thanksgiving dinner and I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.
If you know someone who is having difficulties, you’d be surprised how little it takes to brighten their day, and it will make you that more grateful for your blessings.
FTD “Shades of Autumn” arrangement, starting at $35.
Here are some ideas for getting in touch with gratitude and the impact of kindness and abundance in your life.
- Compose a list of people and things you are thankful for.
- Write a thank you letter.
- Send Thanksgiving cards to loved ones. Dollar Tree has nice ones, two for a dollar.
- Complete a guided meditation on gratitude.
- Bring or send flowers to thank someone.
- Attend a Thanksgiving Day worship service.
- Say a prayer of thanks before your Thanksgiving meal.
- Pass around a “Gratitude Jar” and share your thoughts.
- Take a walk and reflect on your blessings.
- Make something creative: a collage, some photographs, a drawing or poem.
- Attend a 12-step meeting.
- Volunteer or make a charitable contribution.
- Reach out to someone who is going through a hard time. Even a phone call can help.
Have you found creative or meaningful ways to experience and express gratitude? What do you teach your children, if you have them?