It’s the time of year in the US when we all remember to give thanks for our many blessings. It’s a good practice. Yet, it seems to me that since gratitude is so powerful and important, designating only one day a year to giving thanks is not enough!
According to Cicero, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others." Multiple studies have shown the correlation between gratitude and increased wellbeing not only for the individual but for all people involved. At present there is an impressive body of research showing the benefits gratitude has for the health of our brain and heart, our level of happiness, the contribution to a positive home environment, and increased feelings of love.
Yet, for gratefulness to be beneficial, it has to be expressed. I wonder, since gratitude is scientifically proven to enhance health and make your partner happier and easier to live with, why are couples reticent about expressing gratitude?
Couples need to speak the language of gratitude daily, not only for the benefit of their partner, but also for their own benefit. According to Wikipedia, gratitude means appreciation, acknowledgement, grace, gratefulness, honor, indebtedness, obligation, and thankfulness. It’s a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.
For gratitude to do the greater good work it should be:
- Sincere. It has to come from the heart to be able to really inspire.
- Short. A few words of gratitude will have a greater impact on the brain than statements which are lengthy and wordy. "Thank you for finishing folding that pile of clothes," is enough.
- Specific. A vague "thanks for everything" doesn't do it. It has to be specific. Something like: "Thank you for stopping at the dry-cleaners to pick up my shirts even though you were in a hurry," it's much more appropriate. A common suggestion positive psychologists make for improved happiness is to select someone for whom you are especially grateful and write a specific note to that person detailing the things for which you are thankful. Be specific about what he or she has done for you and how his or her actions have positively impacted you. If possible, arrange a time to meet with that person to read the note in person. Try it and see!
- Often. For a relationship to be healthy and loving, you need 5-9 positive interactions for every negative one. I often find that couples in trouble are upside down on this count. My suggestion is to try to share at least 3-5 thank you's every day and you will see how both of you feel closer to each other and more loving.
Don't just show your gratitude once a year during holidays or at special occasions. Instead, build it into your daily and weekly habits, and you will see your relationship blossom.
Remember. . .
There is a global hunger for gratitude. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. Challenge yourself to start off today showing your gratitude to your partner, your children, friends and family. Then, do it at work, with your boss, employees, customers. Count your blessings not only on this special gratitude week, but every day!
Start your day today sharing words of gratitude with your partner! Then continue to share gratitude at different moments of the day. Try to get to at least 3 expressions of gratitude. Do the same every day this week and see how powerful it is for you and for those you express gratitude to. Write down what you said and to whom and what happened. Then, come back here and let us know in the comments how it went.