Expressing our thanks to others is common practice. Often, from an early age we are required to practice our manners by saying please and thank you (albeit begrudgingly) at the request of our parents. With the season of giving and thankfulness upon us, this practice can do more than give us warm fuzzies as we drop a few coins in the bell-ringer’s red bucket.
According to a Harvard Mental Health Letter from November of 2011 gratitude is not simply a benefit to the recipient, but it is of great benefit for the giver: “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Leading researchers in gratitude have done long-term studies on individuals completing weekly journaling on what they were grateful for versus individuals who wrote about their irritations over a 10-week period. Individuals writing about gratitude were found to have a more positive outlook on life but that isn’t where it ended. Other positive effects of this experiment included more exercise and fewer doctor visits. Studies on couples and manager/employee relationships further confirm that people who express gratitude receive overwhelming benefits. A 2015 article in Newsweek found several positive effects of gratitude, which include being more hopeful and healthier, improved sleep quality, increased self-esteem, increased helpfulness and empathy, and increased resilience.
Practically though, what does gratitude look like? It depends on who you are and to whom you are expressing gratitude. Just as with love languages, we give and receive gratitude in different ways. Sending a simple thank you note, raking your neighbors leaves, calling a friend to let them know you felt well cared for by them are all simple and inexpensive expressions of gratitude. Taking time to express thanksgiving in your personal and family prayer life can cultivate gratitude as a habit, and instill it in your children. Having an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ one that is not self seeking or expects something in return, encourages us to look beyond ourselves and toward the cross to the ultimate expression of gratitude.
Want to get creative with gratitude this month? Here are 6 fun ways to express gratitude during the holiday season! Know any kids? Remind them of the real reason for the season and get them involved in your expressions of gratitude.
6 Simple Ways to Express Gratitude During the Holiday Season:
- Decorate sugar cookies with kids in your life (give their parents the night off) and deliver them to a nursing home or shut-ins at your church.
- Notice details about people—their coffee order, a color they like, or an upcoming trip they have planned and remember it when gifting time comes around.
- Write cards to those serving in the military and are away from their family for the holidays or to kids at your local children’s hospital.
- Work through an advent calendar with those you love. Spend time thanking God in your prayers each day in the month of December.
- Look up the recipe for gratitude rolls and serve/share their contents as a group at your next holiday gathering.
- Do something to support one of the following sets of people as they work extended and crazy hours at this time of year and sacrifice time away from their family:
– Your church pastoral and support staff
– Teachers—this time of year is crazy for them!
– Firefighters and policemen
In Praise of Gratitude – Harvard Health. (2011, November). Retrieved November 15, 2016, from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude
Main, D. (2015, November 25). 5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from: http://www.newsweek.com/5-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude-398582
We are excited to announce that Amy Henderson will be joining the Peace Partnership team in January 2017 as our Director of Development. This spot is being vacated by Jeff Cox as he finishes his time with us in December to work full-time at Abundant Life. We are thankful for his time with us and are looking forward to welcoming Amy.
In the spirit of gratefulness, we want to express our thanks to everyone who has supported us in so many ways this year. Our work is made possible by all of you and we are very grateful for the opportunities to pass those blessings on to others. Thank you to everyone who partners with us to provide affordable counseling to so many in our community. We want to express our gratitude to one of our new partners in this month’s “Thank You Notes”:
- Thank you, Mark Klinger Fund, for thinking of us. It was a pleasant surprise to know we were on your heart to bless this season.
If you are interested in finding out how you can become a Peace Partner don’t miss the chance to get involved before the end of the year. There is still time to double your gifts, and take advantage of a tax benefit for 2016, so please click on the link below or contact our Director of Development, Jeff Cox, at firstname.lastname@example.org.