By Joshua Bigner
In the concluding days of fall and into the first few weeks of winter, this time, for many of us, will be spent with relatives and close friends as we return home to reflect on the memories we shared together. Whether your experience of home was either good or bad, research has shown that showing gratitude towards others can improve overall well-being and life the spirits of others.
In Alex Korb’s article ‘The Grateful Brain,’ the author explains the brain is conditioned to function in a repeated pattern. For example, an individual who consistently worries about negative outcomes will rewire his or her brain to only process negative information subconsciously. The brain is unable to focus on the positive and negative simultaneously. Through practicing gratitude purposefully, we can train the brain to concentrate on positive thoughts and emotions, thus reducing anxiety and uneasy feelings.
One may be asking, “What is Gratitude?” Gratitude is showing thanks and appreciation towards what a person receives, whether big or small, which may or may not be physical gifts. When showing gratitude, people reflect on the positive and greatness within their lives. Since it focuses so much on the good, gratitude has linked to more positive emotions and optimism resulting in greater happiness. The improved happiness can be from giving gratitude to others or receiving it from someone else.
Six Ways to Show Gratitude
Now that we know what gratitude is and how it affects us, what are some ways we can show our appreciation towards others? Whether you want to express it to someone miles away or within the comfort of your home, here are some methods on thanking those in your life:
- Write a Thank You Note
- One common way people show appreciation is sending out ‘Thank You’ cards or writing thank you notes. Buying cards or drafting one yourself and mailing it is a thoughtful way to show someone you are thinking of them.
- Buy them a Gift
- Purchasing a meaningful and heartfelt gift to someone can help someone feel appreciated, especially if it is something they have wanted for a while.
- Spend Some Quality Time Together
- We only have so many hours during the day, so spending some of that precious time with someone can truly show how much that person means to you. This can be going to the movies, walking to the park, or even sitting on the couch together catching up about each other’s lives.
- Offer to Help with a Task
- Helping someone with a chore or a task they dread doing helps relieve some stress on the person and helps them feel appreciated knowing that someone is willing to go through something mundane with them.
- Give a “high-five” or a Hug
- Showing encouragement or support through physical touch can help them feel recognized for the work they are doing. Depending on the person and the setting, this can be a high-five, fist-bump, hug or a pat on the back.
- Just Saying “Thank You”
- Sometimes, all people need is for someone to tell them how much they appreciate them, especially those people doing so much for others and may not be receiving the recognition they deserve.
These are just some of the examples of how others give or receive gratitude but are not the only ways. Try giving thanks and showing appreciation towards the people you care about this month and see the ways it affects the overall mood of those around you.
Healthbeat. (2019). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
Korb, A. (2012, November 20). The Grateful Brain. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain
Joshua Bigner grew up in the mountainous small town of Livingston, MT. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology with the intention of becoming a therapist. Joshua’s therapy interests include working with children and families, specializing with those families and children who come from traumatic histories or teenagers living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Growing up in the mountains of Montana, Joshua enjoys several outdoor activities including hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing, and snowboarding. Along with the great outdoors, he enjoys performing, traveling, playing video games, going to the gym, and hanging out with his family and friends.
The Center for Family and Couple Therapy (CFCT) is a part of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in CSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. As a commitment to campus partners, the CFCT welcomes the opportunity to support you and your family in increasing mindfulness and effective self-care in your lives. Please call 970-491-5991 or visit our website for more information.