With the holidays, come a lot of feelings of want. Such as, “I want this present,” “I want my house to look good,” and so forth. Even though we create those long wishlists and daydream about what we want, rarely do we take the time to appreciate what we already have. That’s where gratitude comes in.
Gratitude, simply put, is acknowledging and appreciating what you have. Whether it’s taking the time to thank somebody who held the door open for you, or thanking your mother for home-cooked meals, expressing your gratitude can actually make you happier.
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California, and his colleague Mike McCullough, at the University of Miami, conducted a study on gratitude by having their participants keep a weekly journal. One group described five things they were grateful for in the last week; one group described things that had gone poorly; and one group described things that had affected them, without stating if it had gone negatively or positively. Ten weeks later, the group that had been keeping track of their gratitude, felt better about their lives as a whole and were a whole 25% happier than the group that focused on the negative.
So what are some ways you can focus on what you’re grateful for?
1. Keep A Gratitude Journal
Write down five things you’re grateful for every day. Once you start looking for things to be grateful for, they’re everywhere. Then you can reflect back on them if you are ever feeling down.
2. Say Thank You
Sometimes we say the words “thank you” without thinking about it – but next time you say it, really mean it and appreciate what’s being done. Thank your waiter for their great service. Thank your mom for giving you a killer taste in music. Thank your friends for always listening. Realize how much others really are around to help you out.
3. Write A Gratitude Letter
If there’s someone in your life who has affected you positively or did something you never thanked them for, now is the time to let them know you appreciate them. Jot down why you’re grateful for them, and stick it in the mail. Sometimes it is extra nice to get stuff like this down in writing.
So don’t be bummed this year if you didn’t get something you wanted or were hoping for. Remember that there is so much you already have!
What are you grateful for this holiday season?