Happy Thanksgiving! A Gratitude Practice for Every Day

Happy Thanksgiving! A Gratitude Practice for Every Day

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s the only day of the year that has the word “thanks” in it and what better day is there to be able to answer yes to all three of the questions below:

  1. Are you feeling thankful today for someone or something, big or small?
  2. Have you said thank you to someone, whether in person, on the phone, or through the wonders of technology?
  3. Or have you shown thankfulness to those around you through your actions?

Here at Ink+Volt, we feel especially thankful to all of our fabulous readers and customers for the support, feedback, and energy you give us. We owe you a BIG thank you!

We hope you enjoy today’s post on ways to feel more gratitude and thankfulness, how to communicate those feelings to the people around you, and how to show it through your actions!

Beginning your year of thanks

Why not think of today, Thanksgiving, as the start of a more thankful 365 days; like the first day of the calendar year or fiscal year, today can be the first day of your “thankfulness” or “gratitude” year.

Robert Emmons, Ph.D. and professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis studies the benefits of gratitude and found that people who practice gratitude consistently display a multitude of positive benefits:

  • Physical, such as having a stronger immune system and less aches
  • Psychological, including having more positive emotions, experiencing more joy, optimism, and happiness
  • Social, such as being more helpful, compassionate, and forgiving

The benefits of gratitude and thankfulness don’t just stop at what you alone experience though. When you’re happier, more helpful and compassionate, and feel physically good, you spread the good feelings to the person you’re thanking and the people around you through your subsequent actions.

You impact how they feel and then interact with the people around them, and the links in the chain of positivity continue to grow.

Below, we share ideas on how you can practice gratitude and reap these benefits!

Delight in feeling thankful and grateful

When life is stressful and busy, it’s normal to move through it too quickly. The holidays are no exception.

We forget to stop and think about what we’re doing and why, including simply recognizing and being aware of moments we could, or should, be thankful. You can’t tell someone thank you if you don’t even notice the feeling within you!

Gratitude doesn’t necessarily have to be directed at someone. It can be transpersonal, like when you’re grateful for the warmth of the sun or the brightness of the stars.

There are benefits to feeling grateful to people, places, and things. Don’t limit yourself!

To encourage feeling more thankful and grateful:

1. Take a moment, or many moments throughout the day, to slow yourself down so that you can be present and feel these wonderful emotions!

  • Take deep breaths
  • Repeat a phrase to remind yourself to slow down, like “exhale stress, inhale peace”
  • Sit down and close your eyes
  • Go for a walk

2. Incorporate a daily gratitude practice into your life through the Japanese method of self reflection called Naikan, which focuses on asking yourself three questions meant to be answered with specific, factual instances from the day or period of time:

  • What have I received?
  • What have I given?
  • What difficulties and troubles did I cause? This last question may be hard, but it is meant to bring a more balanced and realistic view of life. We readily recall instances when others have caused us difficulty or trouble, but rarely recognize when we are the source of the same.

When you feel thankful, say something!

Once you’ve created the space in yourself to feel thankful, enjoy it, but don’t hold it in! Take the time to say something:

  • In the moment: Say “thank you” to someone who has done something for you or given you something right away.
  • Soon after: Even if you say thank you in the moment, it may not feel like it’s enough if it’s hurried, or maybe you couldn’t say thank you right away. Follow up with a phone call, email, text, or handwritten card. Communicating your thankfulness will not only make you feel good, but it will also make the other person feel appreciated and recognized for doing something nice or helpful.
  • Weeks, months, or years later: Don’t let time deter you from communicating your thankfulness. It’s never too late to let someone know how much you appreciated their support, recommendation, or gift. Say thank you in whatever way feels best to you!

When saying thank you isn’t enough

Whether you said thank you to someone verbally or in writing, consider expressing your thanks and gratitude through your actions too. It can be a more personal and heartfelt way of showing how you feel when words just don’t cut it. If in doubt, just keep it simple:

  • Hold someone’s hand or give them a hug, which may be especially appropriate on a day like this when you’re with family and friends. Physical contact like this isn’t appropriate in a professional environment, but can strengthen a connection with a loved one.
  • Take initiative and volunteer to do someone’s least favorite task, whether that’s clearing the table, running an errand, or taking out the trash.
  • Be there for them; listen and give 100% of your attention, or spend time doing the things they like to do by just being there physically.
  • Share your skills.  If you’re really good at knitting a blanket or drafting letters, thank someone by sharing these skills with them. It’s enjoyable and easy for you, but will make a huge difference to the other person.

No matter where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing today, take time to feel thankful, say it to those around you, and show it through your actions. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with gratitude and many thank yous.

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