Research shows people who practice gratitude feel more joy and connectedness, cope better with stress and experience less illness and depression. Here are some ways to develop a heart of gratitude:
1. Give a fall bouquet of flowers to someone you appreciate.
2. Pen a thank-you note to someone who doesn't expect it, like the bus driver, your babysitter, or your child's teacher.
3. Start a gratitude journal. List three things you're grateful for each day. Gratitude journals focus on what's right instead of what's wrong.
4. Tell your spouse "thank you for working so hard for our family" or "thank you for taking care of the household." Show appreciation for the things that can often be taken for granted.
5. Set a 'grateful' example to your children. Say "thank you" when they help with table-setting or clean up. Acknowledge and show appreciation for the little things they do, as well as, the big things.
6. Bake a 'thankful pie' using a favorite family recipe. Savor the bounty and give thanks for your family and for fond memories. Remember loved ones by sharing old photos and telling stories to your children.
7. Take a walk through the woods and notice the color of the leaves, the cooler air and God's magnificent creation. Be thankful that God shares His creation with us and gives the beauty of different seasons.
8. Remember difficult times, like frustrations, failures and losses and give thanks to the Lord for how He has brought you through with resiliency and renewal.
9. Rake leaves into a pile. Run and jump with your family and be grateful for good health and silly, spontaneous fun!
10. Write a letter of thanks to each of your children. Explain how they've changed your life and how much each means to you. Give the notes now, and then tuck them into their baby books.
Some ideas contributed by Heidi Luedtke, PhD.
I have not done all of these, but think this list is a good place to start! What are some other ways you give thanks?
Happy and warm Thanksgiving to all of you!