How to be truly thankful
Thanksgiving may be over for another year, but the holiday season is still in full swing, and choosing to focus on gratitude as your enjoy this festive time is a wonderful way to increase your feeling of well being as we inch ever closer to a brand new year.
Even if you’ve struggled with health issues, financial concerns, loss, or other troubling circumstances, adding thoughtful new traditions to your holiday plans can help you see and embrace the good things in your life, no matter how small or simple they may be. When we choose to focus on the good things we have, the good people in our lives, and the good things we can do for ourselves and others, good becomes what we see above all else.
In fact, there is scientific evidence to suggest that consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude can build up a kind of resiliency that makes us better able to cope with life’s stresses.1 And what better time to do that than during the holiday season when we’re often so much more aware of the blessings in our lives?
Consider incorporating one of these gratitude-based traditions into your holiday plans this year:
- Focus on being thankful. Make an effort to look for ways to be grateful, and to thank others, every single day during the holiday season.
- Start a gratitude journal and jot down at least one thing that happened that you are grateful for at the end of each day.
- Write letters of thanks to important people in your life, and to those who have made a positive difference, no matter how small.
- Thank and congratulate yourself when you do something good for your mind or body during the holidays.
- Remember to thank people in the moment. Knowing you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s day can change the course of their day too.
- Walk or run for charity. If you’re physically able, consider signing up for a fun charity walk/run in your area, like the Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run in locations across the United States, the HoHo Holiday 5K in Collingwood, Ontario in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters, or Frankie’s Festive Fun Run in Ilford, Essex in support of local hospices. Taking time out of the busy holiday season to recognize what you have by helping those in need is a wonderful way to turn your feelings of gratitude into action.
- Have a thankful dinner. At the beginning of a holiday meal, invite each person to say something kind about every other guest at the table, or to say something about each person that they are thankful for. By the end of this lovely exercise, every person at your holiday table will have had a chance to express their gratitude towards others and to find out what others find special in them.
- Give back as part of giving thanks. Volunteering your time and giving back to charities that need your support is a wonderful way to give thanks for all the blessings you have in your life. Visit myForesters.com to find out about volunteer activities in your area, and to learn more about how to apply for a Foresters Community Grant of up to $2000 that enables you to organize and lead a volunteer activity that’s meaningful to you and your community. Read our article on giving back during the holidays for more inspiration.
- Be mindful. Mindfulness is about turning off our inner autopilot and experiencing each moment by truly noticing even the smallest details. Try to stop several times a day, take a breath, really observe what’s happening in that moment by taking in all the details—the smell of the coffee on your desk, the sound of the traffic in the distance, the feel of breeze coming through the window—and be thankful for the world around you and that blissful moment of peace that you thoughtfully cultivated.
Life is busy—and not always easy—so on those hard days and during hard times we might struggle to feel thankful. But when we make a conscious effort to look for the good things and good people in our lives, that’s when we’ll see how truly blessed we really are—not just during the holidays, but all year long.
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