11 October 2013

Sincerely Express Gratitude this Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year again, where we gather with family and friends and think of all the things we are grateful for in our life. We might sit down around a table and share a meal, or do an activity together, but most of all we just enjoy our time together regardless of what we are doing.

One of the ways Thanksgiving came to existence was in the 1800’s as a way to be grateful and celebrate the year’s harvest. It morphed into celebrating or reflecting on a special event in one’s life; to now where we take time to enjoy the season and company, and are grateful for what we have in life.

However, expressing gratitude is difficult to do in our fast paced world. We are often too busy or don’t know what to say when it comes to gratitude. We hope that a little thumbs up, ‘thanks’, or emoticon will be enough to express our appreciation.

So when was the last time you actually expressed gratitude? I mean truly and genuinely expressed gratitude to someone? We often go through our day saying ‘thanks’, which is great, but when was the last time you shared your true, even vulnerable, feelings of gratitude towards someone? It may have been some time for some of us.

How about we express some gratitude, and let’s do it, NOW.

I want you to think of someone who is important to you, someone you are the most grateful for or who inspired you the most. And let’s thank them for their contribution to your life.

Grab a pen and paper, or a stylus and tablet, and begin writing a letter or note to this person about how much you appreciate them. Make it as long or short as you want, but most importantly take your time doing it.

When you are done writing consider sharing it with them, and to make the experience really vulnerable and intimate, give them a call and read it to them. If that isn’t an option, send it in an email or post it. If the person has passed, read it aloud, and consider bringing it to their burial site.

I can almost guarantee with certainty, that even though the experience may be awkward and uncomfortable at first, that afterward, you will feel true gratitude and feel happier. Because, do you want to know the cool side effect about expressing gratitude? It turns out, according to research on Positive Psychology in 2005, and a short experiment done online, that expressing gratitude increases your own happiness, almost immediately.

So pick up the phone and be vulnerable, and give that friend or family member a call, and take time this Thanksgiving to truly express gratitude.