Attitude of Gratitude this Holiday Season
By: Katie Nehl, Communications Manager
The holiday months are finally upon us. Often filled with food, fun, and time with family, November and December are seen as the happiest time of the year. The holidays are also seen as a time to reflect on the year we’ve had. What we did, what we accomplished, what we’re thankful for, and showing gratitude for others. But why should we only be doing these things during the holidays? Showing gratitude and thanks throughout the year can keep attitudes high and keep our outlook on life positive. Below we have some different reasons to show gratitude all year round, and some different ways to practice gratitude with your family this holiday season and beyond!
Gratitude Makes Us Happier: It’s all too easy to get caught up in negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, and regret. These emotions can destroy our happiness, but only if we let them. According to a study by psychologist Alex Wood in the Journal of Research in Personality, showing gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of sadness and depression. The more gratitude you have, the happier you are, as you can’t feel envious and grateful at the same time. When you express gratitude, your brain releases the good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, according to clinical psychologist Philip Watkins. These good chemicals are what not only makes us happier, but others around us, including coworkers, friends, family and even strangers. In addition, gratitude can improve your self-esteem and can be contagious!
Gratitude Improves Relationships: Being grateful is the glue that can hold couples together; hold companies together and just in general strengthen relationships of all kinds. No one wants to be around that negative person—and let’s be honest, we’ve all been that person at some point or another. The grateful and happy person is the one your coworkers are more apt to want to hang out with, come running to or even invite for lunch. You are, plain and simple, more likable when you’re more grateful. In addition, gratitude can help you connect and empathize with others, which can highly improve your relationship with members, family, loved ones or coworkers. Just think—a person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected of them. By showing someone you’re grateful for them, telling them you’re proud of them, or even that you appreciate the work they’ve been doing—that person they will be more likely to go out of their way to make you happy, work harder and give you more. Whether you surprise your spouse with flowers or an unexpected spur of the moment trip, or perhaps you bring your coworkers coffee and donuts or even simply tell stop into their office to tell them “thank you”—whatever it may be and however you choose to show a little extra gratitude, just note, it will improve your relationships.
Gratitude Helps us to not be only Self Serving: The holiday season is when we often see people give more to charity, people reach out to help food pantries, more people volunteering to ring the red kettle bells, and even more people paying for the person behind them in the drive through, hoping that person will “Pay it Forward.” It’s easy to believe when you’re grateful, you have the sense that someone else is looking out for you—someone else has provided for your well-being, or you notice a network of relationships, past and present, of people who are responsible for helping you get to where you are right now. You can start to recognize the contributions that other people have made to your life—once you realize that other people have seen the value in you—you can transform the way you see yourself and not be only self-serving, but grateful with a pay it forward attitude. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today, without support from my family, friends, additional loved ones, and past and present coworkers who continually have supported me.
Ways to Implement Gratitude Everyday
- You don’t have to just save being thankful for Thanksgiving dinner. At family dinners, ask your kids what they’re grateful for that day or week.
- Be an active listener. It shows your loved ones and colleagues you care about what they’re saying and making someone feel truly heard is an excellent way to express gratitude to them.
- Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of the day, pick a few things from your day you were grateful for. You can even do this from your phone. Keep a note in your notes app, or there’s even apps dedicated for gratitude journaling.
- Volunteer in the community. Organizations still need help throughout the year, and volunteering is a great way to give back. Checking in with your local shelters, your church, and food banks is a great place to start.
- Tell your coworkers you appreciate them. It’s a small thing, but complimenting them on a report they write or a design they did is an easy way to show gratitude.
We hope you have a Thanksgiving and holiday season filled with laughter, joy and gratitude.