Ten Ways to Practice Gratitude This Thanksgiving

posted: 11/18/16
by: Katie Morton
Thankful sign with pumpkins and autumn things

Perhaps there is something to the adage "change your thoughts, change your life." Research has shown that practicing daily gratitude has been linked to positive health benefits including better overall well-being, more restful sleep, and improved immune function.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to reflect on all the positives in our lives and those things that truly matter in life--our families, relationships, and time shared together. Here are ten easy ways to practice gratitude this Thanksgiving season.

1. Show Gratitude in Your Home

Visual images are powerful triggers. Find personal items which act as reminders of gratitude to personalize your home. Gratitude reminders may be framed photos of loved family members, works of art from your preschooler, or carved wooden sayings of motivational phrases. Whatever speaks to you and reminds you to pause and be grateful is worth displaying proudly.

2. Write a (REAL!) Letter

When's the last time you received a "real" letter in the mail? In our era of rapid mobile communications, odds are good that it's been awhile. This Thanksgiving season, think of someone who has impacted your life and thank them. Pen a handwritten letter of thanks and mail it the old-fashioned way. It will make you feel amazing to reflect on that experience and make your recipient feel appreciated.

3. Be Still

Life is busy--we get it. Practicing stillness and mindfulness allows us to focus on the present moment. Try to learn how to silent your mind--even just a few minutes a day--and focus on the present moment to appreciate your life.

4. Three Blessings

Listing three daily blessings is a lovely way to share gratitude with your children. When you're having dinner or at bedtime, ask your children to share three blessings they had that day. It doesn't matter what those blessings are ("mashed potatoes for dinner" counts!). The goal is to focus on and recognize the small things that make us happy each day.

5. Start a Gratitude Jar

Designate a space in your home to display a Gratitude Jar. Ask your family members to write notes about what they're thankful for each week and place them in a jar. Share the collection of notes at a later date by reading them aloud.

6. Random Acts of Kindness

Think of how much better our world would be if each one of us practiced a random act of kindness each day? Changing the world can start with you. Strive to practice one random act of kindness each day. This doesn't need to be something huge--hold the door open for a stranger or treat a colleague to a coffee. Anything you can do to connect with the world around you will make you feel more grateful.

7. Gratitude Journal

Writing down what you're grateful for can help you reflect on what's good in your life. Before bed or the early dawn hours are both perfect times to write in your gratitude journal. Just jot down three things you're grateful for each day. When you need a mood boost, you can revisit all the things in your life that you feel good about to remind yourself of what you have.

8. Volunteer

Few things cultivate gratitude like serving others. Volunteering to help others is one way to refocus your perspective and realize that you have much to feel grateful for. Find an organization that speaks to you--homeless shelters, animal rescues, and women's and children's organizations always welcome dedicated volunteers.

9. Write a Love Letter

Sharing love with your spouse or partner lets them know how much you're grateful for their presence in your life. Take the time to write a real love letter, and tell them why you're happy to share your life with them.

10. Pay it Forward

Paying it forward spreads gratitude to others. When you're in line at the drive-through, pay a few dollars for the person behind you. Or, feed coins to an expired parking meter the next time you're in the city. A small act of gratitude can brighten another person's entire day.

Practicing gratitude this Thanksgiving can improve your outlook on life, and positively impact those around you. Reflect on your own experiences this holiday season and you'll feel more grounded, content, and blessed.