By Kimberlyn Paul
With the flurry of gift giving and well-wishing this time of year, it’s hard to believe that most Americans do not feel they are good at expressing gratitude. This research comes from the John Templeton Foundation in 2013, which surveyed more than 2,000 people in the United States on the subject of gratefulness. Those surveyed indicated that while they felt the concept of gratefulness was profoundly important, and that there was much in their lives for which they were grateful, many people indicated they didn’t express gratitude very often.
So how can we become better at letting our gratefulness shine? Here are a few things we can do to be gratefully transparent to the people around us, and to increase feelings of satisfaction within ourselves.
- Take a few moments every day to reflect on about 1-3 things that bring a sense of comfort and well-being in your life. Examples are having a place to live, regular meals to eat and transportation.
- Think about people in your life that you find it easy to talk to or who are good at listening. How likely would they be to make time for you? If the answer is yes, they’re someone for whom you should feel grateful.
- Change our way of thinking from needing to feeling content with what we already have.
- Increase rest. We lead very busy lives, and perhaps no time of the year wreaks more havoc on our feelings of fatigue and exhaustion than the holidays. Taking time to pause and give our bodies the opportunity to rejuvenate allows us to head back to life with strength and vigor.
- Don’t take life for granted. Think about the people who have had the most impact on us – a music teacher, a grandmother, a best friend.
- As we creep closer to a new year, make a commitment to recognize all you have to be grateful for and express it on a regular basis. The mere act of practicing gratefulness can have a tremendous impact.
Yvonne Boyd, clinical chaplain for Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles, offers her perspective on why it’s important to feel and express gratefulness. She says to feel grateful is as significant to one’s emotional stability and energy as an endorphin.
“When one is grateful, it inspires us to be empathetic, and to participate in acts of service,” says Boyd. “If we humble ourselves, we can exemplify how we live out gratefulness in our community and our world. We have to be grateful for opportunities and possibilities we have and look for them, even in daunting times; there is always thankfulness we can express.”
Let’s recognize all of the gifts around us this holiday season. For more tips on practicing gratitude, visit here.