By: Angela Jones
Everyone has a reason to be thankful, even if the reason is for just being alive. When we take an honest accounting of our blessings, we are not only showing our appreciation for whomever bestowed those blessings, we are also acknowledging that we have a reason or reasons to be thankful. There is always someone less fortunate, and if we do not acknowledge that fact, we are harming ourselves.
Research shows that gratitude is associated with greater happiness and may improve one’s mental and physical health. The coronavirus pandemic was definitely a situation where people experienced loss, anxiety, and loneliness. Even if someone is suffering through the loss of a loved one, they can still be grateful for the experiences and memories that remain.
Acknowledging and expressing gratitude may also improve the mental and physical health of others. Letting people know they are appreciated, can give them a sense of pride and purpose. An example of an opportunity to share your gratitude and bring joy to someone’s day can be as simple as letting a neighbor know that you appreciate them. Most people have experienced the benefits of having a good neighbor and the perils of having a bad neighbor. Even if your neighbor simply minds their own business, that is something to appreciate.
We often take our family members for granted. If you have an elderly family member, check on them with a phone call or visit to let them know you care about them and appreciate them. You will brighten their day, and by knowing that you did something nice for someone else, you will have a reason to smile.
Young people have gone through some rough times lately, too. Many of them were separated from their family and friends during the pandemic; had to take classes online; had to navigate through situations that they had never experienced; and did not have the life experiences to know that something like the pandemic was possible. For these reasons, young people are excellent candidates for a gratitude pick-me-up. Let young people know
that we appreciate even their slightest accomplishments, like keeping their room clean and helping with chores around the house. We don’t have to wait until they do something specifically for us to tell them how much they mean to us.
Give thanks during the holiday season and throughout the year. Gratitude is contagious; the more you show gratitude to others, the more likely it is that someone will let you know how much they appreciate you. I appreciate you. Happy Holidays!