Last year at Thanksgiving I suggested you add a new ritual to your holiday routine. The idea was intended to help you “overcome the unhealthy emotions associated with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the weeks of extreme consumerism that mark the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.” Here is the link to that post called Thank You Thursday.
This year I am building on the idea with another positive ritual that will improve your health and happiness over the holidays. Each Thursday between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, ask and answer this question…
Who are you thankful for?
Once you have identified someone, write them a thank you card and express your gratitude for the positive impact they’ve had in your life.
It’s no secret that people appreciate reading thank you letters that are written with sincerity. What’s not as well known is that the sender benefits just as much, and sometimes more, than the receiver. Too many people connect happiness with achieving a goal. They have the “I will be happy when” philosophy of life. However, Positive Psychology research proves our health and happiness are the result of being grateful for what we have now, not from what we hope to have in the future.
Expressing gratitude on a consistent basis strengthens our relationships and improves our well-being because it raises our awareness of how we’ve been blessed, encouraged and supported by other people. Hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted over the last 10 years documenting the social, emotional and physical advantages of gratitude. The good news from this research suggests the benefits are available to anyone, especially those who are dealing with adversity this holiday.
While gratitude has the potential to bring health and happiness to the sender and receiver, it’s a gift that has to be shared before its benefits can be felt.
Are you ready to make the time to let the most important people in your world know how much you appreciate them?
If you want to put this idea into action, you need to schedule 15 minutes of Gratitude Time in your calendar on these days: November 26th, December 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, and 31st. Identify at least 1 person you want to thank this week. Get their address, a nice blank thank you card, hand-write a couple paragraphs (pen to paper…not fingers to keyboard) and mail or deliver the letter in person. Repeat the same process for the next 5 Thursdays. If you have children and really want to see more happiness in your home this holiday season, ask your kids to join you in experiencing the power of gratitude. I’m sure there are some Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Teachers and Coaches who would enjoy receiving a letter from your son or daughter.
Everyone wins when the gift of gratitude is given and received.
Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin