Before enjoying our Thanksgiving feast, my family and friends each made a toast to the things we felt thankful for. It brought us all closer together and made the evening richer and more meaningful than pumpkin pie.
The next day, I watched news clippings of Americans fighting over who would get their hands on the latest gadget before black Friday ended. Behaviors like competing over acquiring things create a wall between people, whereas gratitude can improve relationships and create better health.
Gratitude is broadly defined as “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself,” according to the study “Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation,” by Randy A. Sansone, M.D., and Lori A. Sansone, M.D., published in Psychiatry (Edgmont), according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Gratitude can offer a sense of perspective on your life, sometimes helping you rise above the small stuff. It helps you see the good in situations, events, and others. It can help you recognize the value that exists in your life, and perhaps more importantly, it helps you smile.
So rather than waiting until next Thanksgiving to become more grateful and give thanks for the blessings in your life, start becoming a grateful person today. Here are three simple ways you can commit to becoming a more grateful person.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Every evening, as part of your bedtime routine, write down a minimum of five things you are grateful for. Think of the things you value, the things that are meaningful to you, and write them down.
This is an easy way to become a more optimistic person because amid our many challenges in life, there are also many things to be thankful for.
Find the Good in People
If we are to define gratitude as the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to us, then find those qualities in the people around you. Sometimes we get into a negative rut with people because we see them through past resentments, built-up notions, and pent-up anger.
Although it may be valuable to address those issues, the reality is that we cannot change others. If we are serious about improving our relationships with others, then we must start to change our own thinking.
Perhaps there are many things your spouse, close friend, or relative does for you so regularly that you have come to take them for granted.
Start outwardly showing your gratitude when people do something for you. This may or may not have any effect on others, but it will definitely help you get greater feelings of satisfaction about your relationship with them.
These are three simple steps we can take toward becoming more grateful. When we are more grateful, we will naturally become more optimistic. And optimism has been linked to longer, healthier lives.
Tysan Lerner is the founder of Lavender Mamas, a wellness-coaching program for mothers who want to get their body and health back in tip-top shape. She is a certified personal trainer through NYU and a certified Holistic Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Her website is www.lavendermamas.com