Despite the name, the Thanksgiving holiday doesn't always yield gratitude. For some families, gathering together comes naturally. For others, it takes a concerted effort just to remain in the same room as your blood relatives for more than five minutes.
Wherever our families land on that spectrum, I think we can all agree that incorporating gratitude into your Thanksgiving plans can only bring good things. In fact, to date, numerous studies have proven that expressing gratitude to others has a positive effect on our emotional health and improves our interpersonal relationships.
However, if you come from a family like mine, it may not seem natural to express gratitude. What, one minute you're fighting about who had the remote last and the next you're saying, "I'm grateful to be your brother?" It can seem weird, but the benefits outweigh the uncomfortable cost of stepping up to the gratitude plate.
If you're willing to give it a shot, here are a few things you can do to practice gratitude this Thanksgiving with your family.
Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows
Not everything your mother-in-law will do this holiday season will be deserving of your gratitude, but we choose what we put our energy into. We can focus on the number of things we may be bothered by, or we can be grateful for even one thing those around us have to offer.
What you focus on grows. Choose to focus on what you're grateful for.
Intentionally Create Gracious Space
Gratitude may not be a naturally occurring habit for you and that is okay. Choose a time when everyone is in the same room and intentionally create a moment of gratitude. For my friends and family we each take 30 seconds to stand up and say what we're grateful for. For you and yours, it might just be you standing up.
If you create the right space, people will fill it with gratitude.
The Holidays can be a trying time for some people, but a little gratitude can go a long way in making this season one we will look back and be grateful for.
Mentally mark a time right now that you'll create space for gratitude this Thanksgiving.
What is something about your family you are grateful for that you have never verbalized to them?
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” - John F. Kennedy