5 ways being thankful can make us happier

The annual celebration of Thanksgiving is nearly here, and it’s the day that Americans are happiest with 68% of those surveyed putting this in the top spot, ahead of Christmas, New Year, and Independence Day. This makes sense, it’s a time when you have your family and friends around you celebrating and giving thanks just like the pilgrims did when they celebrated the success of the first corn harvest. Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, and showing gratitude can be really helpful for our wellbeing. Here’s how:

1. Improved relationships

Gratitude is an emotion, like anger, happiness or joy and can often be experienced as a result of something that happens to you, say a colleague making you a cup of tea in the office, or your partner de-icing the car on a winter morning so you don’t have to. The wonderful thing about gratitude and being thankful for these small acts of kindness is that it is self-perpetuating. You feel grateful, you give thanks, the benefactor of the kindness feels appreciated and relationships become stronger as a result.

2. Sociability

When we show negative emotions like fear they inhibit us and our thoughts and actually narrow our possibilities. Whereas when we show positive emotions like gratitude, our thoughts broaden and suddenly we become more open to new experiences, particularly ones that involve others. With negative emotions we are more likely to distance ourselves from friends and new people, but when we demonstrate gratitude we are more likely to seek them out.

3. Life satisfaction

Gratitude is also about being thankful for what you have. Counting your blessings and being grateful for the small things in life that are absolutely there if you are open to looking for them and experiencing them. Feeling grateful for the bus that arrives on time, for the beautiful rainbow glimpsed through your window, for the person you are.

4. More positive mind-set

There will always be small set-backs in life, but gratitude can help us to deal with them more positively. It’s about taking those potentially negative experiences and reframing them so that you accentuate what you can be grateful for. Being grateful buoys up our positive emotions and means we are less likely to fall into depression and anxiety. And when we practice gratitude, it can move from a transient emotion to a persistent mind-set that helps us to be more confident and happy.

5. You can help others

Gratitude doesn’t just come from receiving help from others, or being appreciative of what we have but also from the ability to offer our assistance to others. Being in the position to help someone else in their time of need, through a small gesture or an incredibly big action, can be incredibly life affirming as we appreciate that we are able to make their life better. Appreciate what you have, appreciate what you receive, but also appreciate what you can give.

Stephanie Varda Life Coaching

Stephanie Varda is a life coach and stress expert working with clients to identify the behaviours, feelings and symptoms related to stress and provide stress management techniques that will enable life to be lived with happiness and confidence. Stephanie also offers an image consultancy, interrupting negative reoccurring patterns and giving confidence to enjoy life to its fullest.