We may not celebrate Thanksgiving here in South Africa. But that doesn't mean we can't take a leaf out of our American friends' book and make time to show a little gratitude. As screenwriter Ralph H. Blum said, 'There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.' Let's face it, we all like to have the occasional moan - about politics, traffic, the weather. But, the next time you're feeling negative, take a moment to think about what you do have, rather than what you don't. Gratitude is thought to be able to reduce stress, improve sleep and boost spirits. With these 6 pointers, you'll be saying 'thank you' on a regular basis. And appreciating the healing power of gratitude...
7 ways to harness the healing power of gratitude
1). Acknowledge the small things
An easy way to practice gratitude is to show appreciation for the small things. Because they often end up being the big things. Next time your kids draw you a picture or your partner notices that you got a haircut, remember to acknowledge it. American psychologist Dr Dacher Keltner says couples who express gratitude to each other are three times less likely to split up. But, no need to drown in appreciation; a simple, genuine 'thank you' is enough.
2). Appreciate employees
A lack of appreciation leaves employees and co-workers feeling frustrated and disgruntled. And could very well lead to resignation further down the line. Dropping a quick 'thank you' e-mail or saying thanks the next time you pass a staff member's desk is the simplest thing in the world. Remember to do it and you'll have a team of motivated, committed employees - as well as a better outlook on the general work environment.
3). Focus on the positive
This is something we all struggle with from time to time. And this year, we're no stranger to unexpected setbacks. Our brains are also wired to hold on to negativity, while the positive things slip out of our minds like water over Teflon. But, it's possible to focus more on the positive and make an active effort to see the cup half full. If someone is ranting to you, change the topic to a more uplifting topic. If you have a critical comment about a friend, spouse or co-worker, think of three positive things about them to counteract your complaint.
4). Write it down
Writing seems to have gone totally out of fashion, and we're the poorer for it. Of course, you can say thank you with words, or even a simple nod of the head. But a written show of appreciation is so much more meaningful. Next time you need to say thank you to someone, leave a handwritten note or quick card. And, don't forget to write (type) that positive online review. So few people do.
5). Take a walk
We live in a beautiful country with so many opportunities to get outdoors. And, while walking is a great way to get some exercise, it's also an ideal time to reflect. This is known as a gratitude walk and, after just 15 minutes paying attention to basic things like your health, the sun on your skin and the sound of your breath, you'll feel so much more positive. Leave cellphones and headphones at home so you can really be there while you walk.
6). Pat yourself on the back
While you're appreciating family, friends, co-workers and the world around you, remember to include yourself in the list. Acknowledge your own achievements and successes with a figurative pat on the back. It's said to produce a surge of confidence. Remember tough times in the past and appreciate your ability to cope, survive and deal with negative situations. Be grateful for who you are and how you got here.