Let’s face it – many of us are not ok right now. We are entering a holiday season of a challenging and life-altering year. Tomorrow you are supposed to be feeling thankful and grateful but it might feel forced and even fake. Studies show that having a practice of gratitude builds happiness and who would turn down a little extra happiness these days? So if you want to truly, authentically feel grateful try these 5 tips.
Tip #1: Stop comparing
“Comparison is the thief of all joy.” If you are comparing what you have to be grateful for to other people’s gratitude, then you are doing it all wrong.
Example: If you are saying, “I should feel so grateful for my large, crazy family while others are alone.” You aren’t experiencing a real sense of gratitude but instead, you are experiencing a sense of duty.
Tip: To make it easier to avoid comparisons during Thanksgiving stay away from social media – trust me!
Tip #2: Find gratitude in your challenges
Gratitude is not only about being thankful for positive experiences. In fact, thinking about the negative and hard things in your life can lead to a more real sense of gratitude.
Example #1: from a client: “our business took a hit this year and we had to slow down. Prior to this, we were a hard-charging team that was aggressive, competitive, and tense. I am grateful for this slowdown because while the business took a hit we developed deeper personal relationships as a team and will be stronger and more nimble when demand returns for our services.”
Example #2: This year I am insanely grateful for the bond my 3 kids have formed – this bond came exclusively from the fact that my eldest son’s school went remote when COVID hit and he was all of the sudden hanging out with his 2-year-old brother and sister. The remote school has been a negative for me personally but the bond my kids have is a true gift!
Tip #3: Pick up a pen and paper
There is something magical about physically writing things out – most of us are on our phones or computers all day. Yes, it's more efficient but putting pen to paper when you want to truly experience a sense of gratefulness is a gift. Try it!
Tip #4: Volunteer
The pandemic has kept so many of away from socializing, traveling, and having fun but it has also prevented us from gathering to volunteer and gift our time for the benefit of others. This is your remember to find an opportunity to volunteer and give.
Go paint a school while the students are in remote schooling
Deliver food to the homeless
Call back a mentee that was asking for your time
Raise money for a cause with a walking challenge
Tip #5: Tell someone directly why you are grateful for them
If you do nothing else do this!
I know some people send a mass email, blast the same text message to a few friends, or post on social media how grateful they are. If you do that, did you truly think about why you are thankful for that person? Did you truly sit with the feeling of gratitude? When you connect one to one with someone that truly matters, you have an opportunity to deeply understand why they are so important to you.
Soul Pancake, a group that works to discover the “science of happiness,” ran an experiment where they encouraged people to write a letter to a person they were grateful for. By itself, this exercise increased their levels of happiness from 2 to 4%. However, when the same people made a phone call to the person they were thankful for to express their gratitude directly, happiness levels jumped from 4% to 19%.
So there you go, you have the potential to not only make someone else feel great but you can also boost your happiness by 17%!
Happy Thanksgiving – I hope you find your true gratitude this weekend!