Living a Life of Thanks Can Make You Happy

 “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart

Tomorrow, here in the United States, we are celebrating Thanksgiving. Food, food, and more food for starters. That’s already sounding pretty good, don’t you think?

Then there are family, loved ones, friends, and the open table. With the exception of Winter Solstice, Christmas, or Hanukkah, there’s not a holiday more open to inviting a new person, a close friend, or a long lost relative to your table.

And then there’s its purpose: being thankful.

Being thankful has been a part of most of my daily adult life; I made it point to focus on what I had in my life, instead of what was gone or slipping away. Despite all the changes, the financial struggles, and some the drama of the last year, I’m happier than I’ve been in many years. Unless you ask my mother who saw a recent Facebook photo of my after a long day with The Kidlet  and said, “You look like one of those pioneer women”, but that’s for another post.

Being thankful is important in itself. Studies have shown  that being conscious about the things you are grateful for positively affect your well being, mental health, and quality of life. When we make thanksgiving a daily practice we have higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness. It has positive impact on the way you think and feel.

What do I give thanks for, privately?

It varies every day. I thank all the readers of this site, for the encouragement you have given me, for the insights you’ve shared that have made me that much closer to realizing my dreams, for the suggestions you’ve offered– for the time you’ve given me, just reading posts when you have the chance.

I thank the Old Man for his unwavering love and support and my loved ones, for all they do for me- their strength and encouragement. I thank my ancestors for their accomplishments and sacrifices. I thank strangers who’ve shown me little acts of kindness. I thank The Goddess and the Universe, for the life they’ve given me. I thank people around the world for the things they’ve done and are doing to make the world a better place now and for future generations. And I thank myself, for things that I’ve done and the things I’m working on. It’s important to recognize your own accomplishments.

Okay so I’m thankful? What do I do with it? Does it just sit there?

This season we could each allow our thankfulness to be a force that overflows more gratitude into other people’s lives.

What could you offer to others out of your thankfulness?

  • Are you grateful for a comfortable home? How can you use your home this holiday season to truly help someone else feel at home?
  • Are you grateful for your creativity? Could you give a work of art to a charity you hold dear for them to hang in their lobby? Maybe donate a skill or talent?
  • Are you grateful for kids– yours or others? Could you offer a creative service to a child for free for 6 months – a sewing lesson, a creative writing course, an introduction to martial arts class?
  • Are you thankful for your health? How could you brighten the life of someone who is not as healthy; maybe a person that is seriously ill or disabled.

Living a Life of Thanks

The thing is simple acts of gratitude don’t cost you much. But they can make a huge difference.

If you’re interested in living a life of thanks, here are my suggestions:

  • Morning Thanksgiving. Take 2-3 minutes each morning to give thanks, to whomever or whatever you’re thankful for. You don’t have to do anything, other than close your eyes and silently give thanks. This one act can make a huge difference.
  • Say thank you. When someone does something nice for you, however small, try to remember to say thank you. And really mean it.
  • Call to say thanks. Sometimes you might think about something nice that someone did for you. Perhaps you remember during your gratitude session. When you do, pick up the phone and call the person, just to say thanks. Let them know what they did that you’re grateful for, and why you appreciate it. Takes a minute or two. If it’s too early to call, make a note to call later. Even better is telling them in person, if you happen to see them or if they’re on your route. Almost as good is a thank-you email — keep it short and sweet.
  • Give thanks for the “negative” stuff in your life. There’s always two ways to look at something. Many times we think of something as negative — it’s stressful, harmful, sad, unfortunate, and difficult. But that same thing can be looked at in a more positive way. Giving thanks for those things is a great way to remind you that there is good in just about everything. As Pollyanna and cheesy as it may sound, problems can be seen as opportunities to grow, to learn, to be creative.

Gratitude, positive outlook, thankful prayers —can and do change us and give us more fulfilling lives. Being thankful is good for body, for mind, and for spirit.

What are you thankful for, and how will you overflow with that thankfulness so that it pours out to others?