Thanksgiving is two days away and I've been trying to focus on being more thankful all week. Sometimes it's difficult because I long to have my family closer to me so my husband, daughter, and I could go on a thanksgiving dinner marathon, house to house to house, celebrating with all the family we have been so blessed with. It's easy to fixate on the things that are not going well. Doing this will not only cause you to be unhappy, but it may make you eat more than you need to as well. In 2003, a study was conducted to examine the link between thankfulness and a person's well-being. 192 students were split into three groups called the gratitude group, the hassle group, and the neutral group. After ten weeks of journaling what each group was specified to journal, the gratitude group expressed feeling more positively about their lives, were 25% happier, exercised more, and reached out to help others more than the hassle group. What did they journal, you ask? They were prompted to journal five things they were grateful for each week. Sounds easy enough.
I remember a friend of mine I used to run with about once a week would prompt me to do this with her as well. I found it to be quite difficult! I had always thought of myself as a positive person so I was quickly frustrated that I was having such a hard time with this. My friend stated that they didn't always have to be big things but could be the little things too, such as enjoying a quiet drive to work in the morning or my favorite song playing on the radio when my alarm went off. I also found that hearing what she was grateful for lightened my mood as well.
A past client of mine had been encouraged to try this in order to help her refocus her thoughts on something more positive.
I wanted to help her realize there weren't always bad things happening to her, she was just choosing to only see the bad of every situation. She was very crafty and had created a "gratitude journal" in order to keep everything she was thankful for in one place. One week, she brought one in for me. She stated it was very difficult but got the point and I should try doing it. I had just finished reading the book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, so I decided I would shoot for one thousand things in my gratitude journal. I haven't finished it yet. Honestly, I think it got tucked away when I was in tornado cleaning mode before company came over. But, based on this study, I think I will hunt it down and get going on it again so I can be oozing out gratitude and thankfulness by the time Thanksgiving rolls by. I'm sure it can't hurt to be thankful during Christmas and New Year's either.
p.s. Feel free to check out the article I read about the study here:
Rachael Kool, professional counselor and normal, everyday adult screw up