The turkey's in the oven, the potatoes are crispy and brown, and the scent of pumpkin hangs strong in the air. It is that season again--the time when we circle around the table with family and friends, forget our differences and grudges, and commit ourselves to one common purpose: the annihilation of the most monstrous meal of the year. By about 6pm, the turkey won't be the only thing in the house that's stuffed.
We look forward to this time of the year for many reasons, whether it be football, the Macy's parade, or Black Friday shopping. But before we start playing the Christmas music (although for some of us it's, *achem*, too late), let's take a moment to celebrate the blessings in our lives and give thanks. A spirit of gratitude is worth cultivating for many reasons, and here are 6 of the best reasons to be grateful all year::
1. It makes you strong
Would you say that a grateful boss is more or less likely to be successful? This was the question put forth in a 2012 survey by the John Templeton Foundation, and the results were overwhelming. It turns out that 94% of women and 96% of men believed that a grateful boss is more likely to be successful. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this result was that it was based on perception rather than on cause and effect. Simply expressing gratitude gives the appearance of success and confidence.
2. Improves your health
The science of positive psychology is a a field that demonstrates the healthy effects of positive thinking, as with expressing gratitude. The results are startling, and repeatedly show that people who express gratitude are more likely to exercise, less likely to visit their doctors, have improved quality of sleep, lower blood pressure, higher energy levels, less physical pain, and could even extend their lifespan.
3. Boosts our productivity
Have you ever received a thank you note? Do you recall what you did with it? I can recall one instance when I was working as a student ambassador, a job which entailed giving campus tours of the university to prospective students. One of the gentlemen on the tour was kind enough to send a thank you message onto my supervisor, which in turn found its way to me. I was not a person given to mementos, but I saved this email for over 3 years until I graduated. That simple gesture motivated me to always give the best in that job
What's more, if we push beyond thinking grateful thoughts and get to expressing gratitude, we have moved from the realm of passivity to activity. This helps us be a more decisive goal-setters and plot out tasks that we can achieve.
4. It makes us happy
Is it any surprise that people who are grateful tend to be happier? A common practice is to keep a gratitude journal, where one takes 5 minutes each night before bed or each morning upon waking to write down things for which they are grateful. It is a widespread practice among CEOs and entrepreneurs for increasing their happiness and self-esteem.
5. Gratitude is cyclical
Everyone appreciates being recognized for their work. Whether it's a kind word exchanged in the hallway or an letter of gratitude, that small "thank you" is enough to make each of us feel like we can conquer the world. I recall the story of a woman who was turned down for a job, but sent a thank you letter onto the interviewers. She expressed her deference for being given the opportunity, and spoke of her continued interest in the job if another opportunity should become available. Within months, she was contacted regarding another job opening in the same department. The woman believes her note of gratitude helped to leave a positive impression with the company, and influenced the interviewers to contact her when a new opportunity opened up. Gratitude expressed towards others influences others to be more grateful to you and those around you.
6. The world needs more of it.
Very few people quibble with the idea that we should be grateful. But how often do we act on that idea? In the same survey mentioned earlier, 90% of people said they were grateful for their family, and 87% said they were grateful for their friends. But only 52% of women and 44% of men said they express gratitude on a regular basis. Surely we can do better at giving voice to our gratitude, especially in light of all the benefits it provides to us and others.
In short, let's find room to express a whole lot of gratitude today. Let's give thanks certainly for the blessings in our lives, but let's also give thanks to the people around us. And lastly, let's keep thanking others when leave the holiday table and get back to school and work. To the classmates, co-workers, supervisors, and professors upon whom we depend for so much, we say:
Who or what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season? Comment below!