Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day! A whole day set aside for food, family, food, football, and food! Oh, yeah, and a day reserved to give thanks. So, before you let the food, family and football commence, please take a moment to be grateful for this article you are about to read. Seriously though, it can have a profound impact on your life (the whole being grateful thing that is…the effect of the article is less certain).
Thanksgiving Tips (according to some good science):
Put down the Red Bull and pick up a thanksgiving journal!
In a research study (Emmons & McCullough, 2003) one group of participants kept a daily journal listing what they were grateful for. Another group recorded what annoyed them. Those who kept a “gratefulness” journal had more energy and enthusiasm and were happier than the other group. You don’t need an energy drink. You need a thanksgiving journal!
Say thanks and give Uncle Frank a break!
In a similar study by Emmons, the participants who daily journaled what they were thankful for reported that they were more inclined to help others with a personal problem. While those when recorded what annoyed them only became more annoyed with other’s problems. So don’t let annoying Uncle Frank get under your skin, just give thanks…for something!
Double up on the turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie!
When we are grateful, our brains release the feel good transmitters dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Our bodies like these chemicals so much that it evokes a “do that again” response. So, a grateful heart can feed on itself and help us want to repeat it. We simply kickstart the process by saying thank you. So have seconds of everything, including gratitude!
Skip the main meal and just have dessert!
Our brains have this thing called “negativity bias.” We have five times more negative circuits than positive ones, and so we naturally tend to focus on the negative. But, when we are grateful it forces our brain to think about the positive. Paul understood this when he wrote Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Think on all the sweet things!
Stop counting sheep and start counting your blessings!
A Chinese study discovered that gratitude decreases depression, lowers anxiety, and improves sleep (Korb, 2012). So, you don’t need the tryptophan in the turkey, just count your blessings! Start and end your day with a grateful heart.