Every year when my family sits down to Thanksgiving dinner, we go around the table and each say all the things we’re grateful for that year. It’s a wonderful way to reflect on the previous year and everything that happened. What better time to actually see who we’ve become and see just how much we’ve evolved?
Don’t believe me? Well, friends, I’ve got a little something called science on my side. New York Magazine recently wrote about the link between giving thanks and a happy mood. According to research, the effects of saying those two simple words — “Thank you” — can last as long as a month.
[Researchers] gave a series of six tasks to more than 400 people to test different ways of improving people’s moods: Some participants were instructed to reflect on and write about their personal strengths, for example, while others were told to think about their personal strengths and find new ways to use them every day for a week.
Just one of those six tasks involved gratitude: The participants were asked if there was someone in their lives who was once particularly kind to them, but whom they never properly thanked. They then were instructed to write and hand-deliver a thank-you letter to this person. In the end, the gratitude task had the biggest impact on the participants’ happiness, and the effects were still measurable when the researchers checked in a month later.
Pretty uplifting, if you ask me. So in the spirit of all things thankful, here are five things I’m saying a big “THANK YOU” to this year…
1. My family: Yes, easily everyone’s top pick, but there’s definitely NO shame in that. I’m not sure how I would have survived the last decade or so without my mom or my sister. I’m proud of the women we’ve become in my father’s absence. We’ve managed to carve out a new life for ourselves, especially when it was the last thing we wanted to do. And of course, our two cats made the journey so much sweeter. Oh, where would we be without Harry and Stella?
2. My health: No surgeries and no major illness is definitely something to celebrate. There was a time in my life when having just a couple surgeries in a single year was considered a triumph, so I feel especially lucky this year. I feel like — dare I say it?? — a normal woman for once in my life. AND I LOOOOVE IT!!!! Can you tell I’m slightly pumped about it?
3. So About What I Said: This blog? I know I’ve said it 651521515 times before, but I don’t know what I’d do without it. Sometimes, I swear it even keeps me sane. And YOUUUUU!!!!!! We are a pretty mighty, strong, fierce, passionate community. I’ve so enjoyed getting to spend the last six years with you, and I thank you for inviting me into your life. Together, I’m quite certain that we could take over the world, and I’m in no way exaggerating when I say that. You. Me. Together. The world.
4. Taylor Swift’s 1989: Best album of the year, hands down. It teaches you to just shake it all off and live life — on your terms and in whatever way you want! How liberating is that? FREEDOM!
5. Summer: Yes, I know it may sound like a weird thing to be thankful for, but my fellow Midwesterners will no doubt agree with me. Having survived the last few agonizingly cold winters, the summers have felt extra special — sort of like a gift. I know the promise of next summer is what’s going to get me through this brutal winter, so don’t let me down, Mother Nature!
Ahhh, I do feel lighter — and happier — already! YOUR turn, friends: What are FIVE things you’re thankful for this year? Family? Pets? A favorite show? Go ahead and share your list in the comments, and let’s chat, shall we? xoxo
[Photos via We Heart It]