While Thanksgiving is, in part, about eating our body weight in turkey and mashed potatoes, it’s also about giving thanks.
In mark of the occasion, we ask Dr Lilian Jans-Beken, an expert in the field of gratitude, to share with us five ways we can practice giving thanks — not just on 28 November, but each and every day.
Why is it important? ‘Gratitude is associated with improving one’s mental health because of the tendency to look for good in all kinds of situations, including adversity, which strengthens our resilience,’ explains Dr Jans-Beken. ‘Through the reciprocity of gratitude, we also become more connected to people around us, and science shows that social support is very important to attain and maintain overall well-being.’
So what are Dr Jans-Beken’s top five ways?
1. The gratitude bracelet
‘If you want to start with feeling grateful more often, you have to make sure that you’re reminded of your intention regularly. You can do this by wearing a bracelet with large beads or a pendant that gets in your way during the day. Every time you feel the bracelet, you can remind yourself to be grateful for something at that time.’
2. The gratitude journal
‘This is the best-known method. Write down three to five things every day that you were grateful for that day, even when your day didn't go well. And don’t only write down what you’re grateful for but also why you’re grateful for it. You can do this at any time of the day, in the morning or at night, whenever suits your schedule best.’
3. The gratitude letter
‘Is there someone in your life that was or is important in what you’ve achieved? Don't wait until their funeral to thank them — do it here and now! Write them a letter and let them know that you’re grateful for them, or, even better, read the letter out loud to them. This will guarantee a boost in happiness.’