Giving Thanks This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving really is a wonderful time of year, full of family and feasting and fun. From the turkey to the homemade rolls to the pumpkin pie, my stomach always comes away happy!

While I love having an excuse to eat my fill of delicious food, Thanksgiving should be about more than just turkey and pie. It can serve as a beautiful reminder of the importance of gratitude, both for us individually and for our families.

Benefits of Gratitude in Family Life

Gratitude isn’t just a nice idea. Cultivating a grateful lifestyle can actually bring a lot of benefits to you and your family!

  • Improved physical health. Helping your kids be grateful may actually help their physical health! Research shows a strong correlation between living a grateful life and being physically healthy (1).
  • Improved mental health. Gratitude can also work wonders for your mental health. Research shows that gratitude decreases risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges (2).
  • Stronger relationships. Being grateful can help your relationships, too! One study found that gratitude helped couples feel more connected and more satisfied with their relationship, acting as a sort of “booster shot” (3).
  • Increased overall well-being. If these benefits aren’t enough to convince you, many studies show that gratitude just makes life better overall (4)!

How to Cultivate a Gratitude Attitude

Obviously, being grateful is a good thing. But how can we develop gratitude in ourselves, and how can we help our children become more grateful as well? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. For some great practice developing an attitude of gratitude, try writing in a gratitude journal at least once a week for 15 minutes. Think of up to five things you’re grateful for, then get specific with each one. (For more tips on gratitude journaling, check out this site from UC Berkeley.)(5)
  • Ask your kids to share three good things from their day. Dr. Christine Carter says she does this gratitude practice with her kids every day (6). It may seem like a simple exercise, but consciously recognizing the good in our lives can help us all be a little more grateful. Research shows this same practice has even led to reduced burnout in physicians. 
  • Model gratitude. If we want to help our kids become grateful, we need to be grateful ourselves. Express gratitude to the people in your life, and share with your kids what you’re grateful for. Seeing your example can help them become more grateful themselves (7).

(For more great ideas on cultivating gratitude, check out the National Physician Center’s article on cultivating gratitude: Attitude of Gratitude!)

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a great time to remember the importance of gratitude. As you try to become more grateful and help your kids do the same, you’ll be amazed at the benefits. So this Turkey Day, be sure to set aside the pumpkin pie for a minute and take time to truly give thanks.

And from all of us here at the American College of Pediatricians:

 


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References

  1. Hill, P. L., Allemand, M., & Roberts, B. W. (2013). Examining the pathways between gratitude and self-rated physical health across adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(1), 92-96. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886912004011
  2. Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. A. (2010, November). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890-905. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/2Wood-GratitudeWell-BeingReview.pdf
  3. Algoe, S. B., Gable, S. L, & Maisel, N. C. (2010, May). It’s the little things: Everyday gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationship. Personal Relationships, 17, 217-233. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01273.x/full
  4. Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. A. (2010, November). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890-905. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/2Wood-GratitudeWell-BeingReview.pdf
  5. Gratitude journal. (n.d.). Retrieved from Greater Good in Action website: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/gratitude_journal
  6. Carter, C. (2011, November 21). The foundation of happiness: My favorite gratitude practices. Retrieved from Greater Good Magazine website: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/Foundation_Happiness
  7. Froh, J., & Bono, G. (2014, March 5). Seven ways to foster gratitude in kids. Retrieved from Greater Good Magazine website: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_to_foster_gratitude_in_kids

Pictures retrieved from https://www.pexels.com/photo/affection-appreciation-decoration-design-424517/ and https://pixabay.com/en/happy-thanksgiving-holiday-season-1842911/.

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