By Julie Leonard
Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. Although not celebrated in the UK where I come from or here in Germany, having an American sister-in-law meant that each year I was in Scotland we would have a party where we celebrated the importance of family and friends and shared what we were thankful for.
Since moving to Munich, there may not be any parties, but I still like to use the holiday to reflect on what I am thankful for. I am a huge fan of practicing gratitude, not just at thanksgiving but 365 days of the year.
Gratitude = Happiness
‘It is not happiness that brings us gratitude, it’s gratitude that brings us happiness’.
That is, people who practice being thankful are happy. Research that tells us that practising gratitude daily:
Makes us more positive
It also blocks negative emotions such as envy, resentment and depression.
Overall it helps us focus on the present and makes us resilient during tougher times.
What is there to be thankful for?
Of course acknowledge the big events in your life, however, begin to focus on the smaller everyday things too. Daily mindfulness and awareness of the world around us focusses us on the small and beautiful things in life and increases our mood and happiness – a beautiful sunny day, the first fall of snow, the hug of a cat, coffee with a friend, a phone call with family, the leaves changing colour in autumn, a walk in the park, a delicious meal, savouring that chocolate……
Decide to notice one thing each day you are thankful for.
*Make or buy a Gratitude jar or journal and write down one thing you are thankful for each day. Do this for a week, or a month or a year and then see the amazing things that happened in your life.
(Also dip into it as a resource on those tough days. Nothing like lots of reminders of the good things in your life to build resilience and help you through a hard time)
*Ask some friends to do the same and share what you are thankful for. Spread the happiness!
Kindness during the holidays
And as we fast approach another holiday, this one way more commercial than Thanksgiving, I want to mention kindness. Those who practice gratitude are usually also tuned into the benefits of kindness. In the same way practicing gratitude creates this positive cycle of happiness and feeling thankful, so too does practicing small acts of kindness bring happiness which makes you more kind, which makes you more happy and so on……
Each year I like to share a little event – The Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. For the past 3 years, I have both participated in and facilitated this Advent challenge. Every day from the 1st December until Christmas Eve you receive a random act of kindness to carry out. It might be phoning a friend, making cookies for your colleagues, giving someone a compliment, you get the idea. And by sharing what you do in a group creates a positive FB feed of kindness.
Want to join? Sign up for the Über Moms Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar now and spread the kindness, and happiness, this season.
Julie Leonard is a Life Coach, De-Cluttering Expert and Aromatherapist who is passionate about Happiness and supporting women to transform their lives and live to their potential. Über Moms enjoy a discount on all life coaching sessions. More info at http://www.potentiacentre.com.