November 26, 2019
As Thanksgiving approaches, we’re all reminded to pause and take a moment to count our blessings. But did you know that there are many benefits to expressing our gratitude not just during Thanksgiving, but all year long?
As it turns out, gratitude is powerful. According to Dr. Robert Emmons, a gratitude researcher, practicing gratitude magnifies positive emotions that lead to more optimism and happiness, reduced stress, stronger immunity, better sleep, and fewer bothersome aches and pains.
The positive effects of gratitude can be even greater for older adults. Neuroscientists have found that our brains actually get better at experiencing gratitude as we age. As we grow older and gain more life experience, our brains tend to become less active in responding to negative information, and more reactive to positive information. Overall, gratitude may play a significant role in improving senior health and wellbeing.
Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” takes time and patience, but it’s well worth it. Here are some fun and meaningful ways to share your gratitude with senior loved ones during Thanksgiving and throughout the year:
Start a gratitude journal
Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the easiest ways to add more positivity to your life. It’s as simple as listing one thing you’re grateful for a few times each week, whether it’s a memory from the past or something you’re currently experiencing. Dr. Emmons recommends being as specific and personal as possible when listing what you’re grateful for. At the end of the week, take some time to reflect on your thoughts. You can even share the highlights with your family or friends to spread the positivity!
Pass a gratitude basket
Bring “thanks” to your Thanksgiving table this year with a gratitude jar. Before you dig into your Thanksgiving feast, give your guests a small piece of paper and a pencil. Ask them to write down what makes them feel grateful and place the paper in a basket. When you sit down to eat, pass the basket around the table so everyone can draw and read another person’s paper. Sharing words of gratitude with friends and family can easily become an annual Thanksgiving tradition!
Another great way to show gratitude is by giving back, especially during the holiday season. Consider lending your time and talents to a local non-profit organization. Whether you help gather and sort donations, knit scarves, or create no-sew fleece blankets, you’re sure to make the holidays a little brighter for those in need in your community.
As you can see, there are many ways to make gratitude a regular practice during the holidays and throughout the year. Taking a few moments to express your gratitude is sure to lift your mood and bring more satisfaction to your days.
And remember, you can learn a lot about the wisdom of gratitude from older loved ones. This holiday season, take a moment to tell those special people how thankful you are to have them in your life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!