1. Health
Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Celebrate Thanksgiving For Weeks—Cultivate Gratitude

By November 7, 2013

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I am an enthusiastic proponent of cultivating gratitude. Oprah endorses gratitude journals, and testifies personally to their effectiveness. Therapists and coaches recommend focusing on the positive and the active cultivation of gratitude to enhance well-being. When I myself have gone through the greatest challenges in my life and weathered my saddest days, turning my thoughts to what I have to be grateful about has always helped. And research from positive psychology backs up the practice of gratitude: one study found that when depressed patients maintained a gratitude journal and wrote about three items for which they were grateful at the end of each day, their depression lifted significantly after mere weeks. Clearly, focusing on gratitude pays off.

Because this month ends with Thanksgiving, a holiday focused on gratitude, this is the perfect time to turn your thoughts toward all you have to be thankful for. Why not wait until the actual holiday, and merely celebrate with turkey like many people do? Because when we spend more time focused on feelings of gratitude, and in fact build gratitude into our lives to a greater degree, we are more aware of the many blessings in our lives, feel a greater sense of optimism, and gain many other benefits as well. Also, more people will be in this frame of mind, so they will be more likely to support you and perhaps join you in shift your thoughts to the positive. (And positive peer pressure can be a very effective tool for reaching healthy goals!)

So how can you make gratitude a more significant part of your life, starting now? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep A Gratitude Journal: Maintain a journal where you record three items at the end of each day that you really appreciated that day. Not only can this feel good and bring you to a more positive frame of mind while you are counting your three items, but you will likely find yourself noticing the positives in your life more throughout the day, as you mentally decide what you might want to list in your journal that night. This can bring a greater gratitude mindset for the entire day.
  • Tell People: As you go through your day and find that people are doing things you appreciate, be sure to tell them! Even if it's not something that someone is doing to purposely affect you, letting them know you appreciate them can make them feel better, and that can make you feel happier as well. So if your barista remembers your regular order, if your friend shares a joke that makes you smile, if your kids do something wonderful (and most kids usually do at least something wonderful most days), be sure to share with them what you appreciate, and how it makes you feel.
  • Tweet About It: Or make it your Facebook status. You can share your gratitude with like-minded others by tweeting with the #gratitude hashtag (I'm @elizabethscott if you want to follow me on Twitter), or you can post it on my Facebook page. Putting it out there via social media brings three benefits: first, announcing what you are grateful for brings the same benefits of recording in your journal (see above). Second, if you establish a pattern of sharing your bits of gratitude (say, for the month, or until Thanksgiving), your friends will come to expect these posts, and you may be more likely to stick with the habit, especially if it's something you are doing for a few weeks to get yourself into the habit. (You can transfer your practice to a private journal at any time.) Third, and very importantly, sharing with your friends what you are grateful for helps them adopt a mindset of gratitude as well! This can be good for them, and having a group of more positive friends can be good for you, too. It's a win all around!
What are you grateful for today?

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Comments
November 8, 2011 at 12:45 am
(1) Jeanne says:

What a great idea for the holidays~~~and every day!
Jeanne

November 8, 2011 at 12:46 am
(2) Jeanne says:

What a wonderful way to enjoy the holidays~~~and every day!
Jeanne

November 19, 2012 at 9:16 pm
(3) Kim Hinterschied says:

Great article. I am reading Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
The book is well written and helps you to be thankful for the small and big challenges.

November 20, 2012 at 6:54 am
(4) anne says:

we dont forget to thank with the others but
we forgot to say thanks for ourselves.
so my love start to try.
123
so again and again.
“thank u very much for myself .”
we must start the day with the best of smile.
for myself, cheer up.

November 21, 2012 at 6:40 am
(5) Gratitude says:

I always admire the expression ” Gratitude is the best of all attitudes ! “.
I have a question to friends here: This is my first post. While filling the Name column I’ve to think several times over and finally deciding on to give a nick name instead of actual name. Whether this is normal behaviour or not. Thanks.

November 22, 2012 at 3:59 am
(6) Sergio says:

This is excellent hey and truly life changing. When we all learn to look at the glass half full we will also see opportunities we never noticed before to be a simple blessing unto others.

I’m starting immediately. I’m grateful for this great article Ms elizabeth scott, you are changing lives along with Oprah.

December 3, 2012 at 3:36 am
(7) Mario Muse says:

Great article!

December 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm
(8) jey says:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao-tzu”

December 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm
(9) fouad says:

Cultivating gratitude is the value that requires to be instilled in all people regardless their ages or gender so that the world can live in peace over the centuries ………….. The process is a pedagogic value that is required to be a skill, an objective, and a domain to mastered by all educators, parents, workers whether blue or white. The world is going to enjoy stability, peace, and tranquility.

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