How to Give Thanks Like a Badass and Benefit From It
Tis the season to be thankful. But are you really?
You’ve heard about keeping a gratitude journal (or maybe you haven’t and you heard it from me first, woo!).
And surely you’ve heard about this whole thanks-giving holiday business. But how many times have you just gathered the troops, muttered some thanks, and promptly dug into the turkey and mash?
I see you. You’re being a cheeky cheat and you know it.
NO MORE MUTTERING. Here’s to giving thanks like a badass.
Why Should I Give Thanks?
I’m not going into a spiel about how grateful you should be and people have it much worse than you. I’m going into science.
Ok, not that type of science.
I’ll split this up into “duh” benefits and “oh, cool” benefits.
When you start to be grateful for the life and circumstances around you, you’re likely to experience:
- more positive thoughts
- more compassion and kindness towards others
- more awareness of what you’re grateful for
- more practice on being a civil, mannered person (we need more of those)
Plus, it helps that as far as anti-depressants and “feeling more alive” goes, gratitude comes to you FO FREE!
Some other positive side-effects worthy of mentioning include:
- better sleep (and sleep quality!)
- stronger immune system
- prosocial behavior (like decreased desire for revenge, more sensitivity and empathy)
- higher self-esteem (from comparing yourself less to others and appreciating them instead)
- more resilience in the face of trauma (studies show lower rates of PTSD in Vietnam veterans practicing gratitude)
Here’s a short, fun video from Scientific American Mind (you know I couldn’t get through a post without some neuro):
How Should I Give Thanks?
Excellent question, m’dear!
I will separate my tips into novice and advanced because there is room for advancement in all endeavors, so why not.
As a novice, the easiest way to go about making gratitude a habit is keeping a gratitude journal. Much like my past post on journal therapy, this tip is a physical reminder for you to let loose. But instead of venting about life in journal therapy, you are relishing life in your gratitude journal.
Robert Emmons, one of the leading experts on gratitude, says it’s as simple as listing five things you’re grateful for each week. Pick a day, pick a time, and make it a routine.
If you have writer’s block (don’t we all), draw a picture. Or add in some mementos from a moment you are thankful for (i.e. ticket stubs, photos). Make it a whole scrapbook, why dontcha.
A digital log of thanks works as well, of course. But there’s just something about the process of writing that is equal parts engaging and sentimental.
Give your devices a rest once in a while; they’re probably tired of your face.
Similar to the way that looking at life through the humor lens changes your perspective, being grateful shifts your focus. You start to see the good in things, people, and situations. You affirm that while there may be hurdles and hassles, there are so. many. gifts.
When you notice the positive more, things that used to be mundane are now novel again! The car, the house, the job; imagine feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for those things, like you probably were at the onset.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. -Roald Dahl
Indeed, Roald, indeed. You can find the magic if you look for it. It’s the looking part, and remembering to look that gets in the way. I get it.
When it comes to the routine, if you like journaling, start being more specific. As suggested in this lovely post (that I’m very THANKFUL for), instead of writing “I’m grateful for my family” week after week, write “Today my husband gave me a shoulder rub when he knew I was really stressed” or “My sister invited me over for dinner so I didn’t have to cook after a long day.”
Stretch your observation skills and make it a game; how many new, amazing, awe-inspiring things can you find each day?
And if journaling is meh to you, try out these creative ideas.
Now, before you start to mutter (again with that muttering!) that habits take 21 days to form (which is false) and it’s hard to change your routine up when you’re so stuck in your ways, how about some neuroscience for you?
The brain loves change and exercise, so no excuses.
The brain is a muscle. And intelligence is sexy. Put two and two together, and you find that the more you work out your noggin, the sexier you are. #truefacts
So, how do I get sexier, Sonia?
Well, let me help you with that (since I’m the self-proclaimed expert?).
By adding in new habits and being diligent with them, you pave new pathways in the brain. If you try something new out, and then fall off the tracks promptly after, the brain shrugs its shoulders and the promising new pathway gets overrun with weeds.
Fight the weeds. Stick to it. And if one of the aforementioned strategies is too hard to implement, MAKE YOUR OWN. So…
Logical conclusion: being grateful = being sexy.
Where Should I Give Thanks?
When Should I Give Thanks?
If you’ve graduated to advanced (see above; if you want a tassel and a celebration, message me and I’ll see what I can do), than going a day without giving thanks will feel off somehow.
- Some people prefer going through their list when they wake up-they start the day fresh and with a good outlook.
- Some prefer a nightly routine because it’s easier to reflect back on the day and what stuck out. Plus, they brighten up their pre-sleep cognitions and probably have badass dreams!
Who Should I Give Thanks To?
Wanna boost your romance? Tell your partner what you’re thankful for and watch as they become more responsive to your needs and the satisfaction levels rise.
Admire a colleague? Tell them why and start a ripple effect of elevated trust, self-worth, and confidence in the workplace.
But really, you should give thanks to everyone and everything. You literally having nothing to lose and so much to gain.
Now go on with your bad self and give thanks. Don’t you dare mutter.