Count your blessings
Some families have established a Thanksgiving tradition of going around the table and having each person, one by one, tell something he or she is most thankful for. It might be: “I’m thankful that Aunt Betty made her pecan pie!” Or “I’m thankful that the family is all here together, safe and healthy after another year.”
Once those sentiments have been expressed, it becomes necessary to start searching for the little things that often go unnoticed, such as Charles’ untiring work washing up pots and pans after dinner.
Keep a gratitude journal
One day of gratitude is not enough, of course. The gratitude journal advocated by Dr. Emmons and other psychologists is a good way to start making thankfulness a larger part of your life.
Set aside some time every day for recording a certain number of things you are thankful for. Emmons and McCullough required five items each day, with one brief sentence for each.
It’s important to write regularly, and in order to do this it’s best to set aside a specific time–first thing in the morning, right after dinner, just before bedtime. And it’s important to meet your set quota each day, even if that’s difficult.
Simply put, it amounts to counting your blessings or looking at the sunny side of life. But it’s really more than that. As Emmons writes, “the act of writing allows you to see the meaning of events going on around you and create meaning in your own life.”
Gratitude means feeling good and expressing thanks toward anyone. Tell your fellow workers how much you appreciated their help covering for you on your day off. One sports columnist routinely thanks his audience for reading.
Eventually, all of this should start to have an effect on your life. “More than any other emotion, gratitude is the emotion of friendship,” writes Dr. McCullough. Our ancestors understood this in 1621; let us re-enact it again this year on the fourth Thursday in November ... and follow through the rest of the year.
Rupp is a certified information and referral specialist on aging for NODA Area Agency on Aging. Contact her at 237-2236.