So Many Ways to be Thankful
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Thanksgiving will soon be here. It is my favorite holiday—an opportunity to spend time with loved ones and to reflect on the many blessings, good memories and good fortune that come our way. Turns out, there are many benefits to practicing thankfulness or gratitude. Thankful people are more satisfied in life. They enjoy better physical and mental health and more satisfying personal relationships. A sense of thankfulness improves sleep, raises self-esteem and reduces stress.
Thanksgiving is not just about celebrating our personal list of “wins.” It also is an opportunity to share our appreciation and our good fortune with others.
What are some of the ways you can be thankful?
Thankfulness and gratitude, like many things in life, require practice. Cultivating a thankful heart often is a matter of perspective. A friend of mine recently gave up driving. He said, “I’m grateful that I was able to make the decision.” Instead of focusing on the loss of mobility, he celebrated his ability to think clearly and to be in control.
Being thankful is being mindful. Stating or writing down a blessing, i.e. the “lists of benefits” noted above, is part of the process. Saying “thank you,” sending thank you notes, and expressing your gratitude with others are essential to maintaining a spirit of thankfulness.
Another way we express thankfulness is by giving back. Volunteering your time, making a donation, helping a friend with a project, mentoring a colleague: these are just a few ways to express your gratitude. Volunteering is not only the “right thing to do,” it also provides numerous personal benefits. A growing body of research shows an association between volunteering and mental and physical health. In particular, older volunteers report lower mortality rates, lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations, and higher levels of well-being.¹
CICOA offers many ways for you give back: as a donor, a volunteer, a community partner. And, there are many more opportunities in Central Indiana to make a difference in the lives of others. When you express your gratitude and become a source of thankfulness for others, you help make this a better community in which to live. And, we can all be thankful for that.