Have you ever given someone a gift, and seeing them light up made you light up? When you express gratitude to someone, it’s not just them who benefits – you do too!
Besides being a mood booster, expressing gratitude can help rewire negative thinking patterns by redirecting your attention to the people, places, and things that you appreciate, according to PsychCentral.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are some simple ways you can incorporate gratitude into your life:
- Share some encouragement
As someone who values words of affirmation, I love receiving handwritten notes from others. This past October, I went on a fall retreat with the Christian organization on campus, and each person made their own encouragement bag which people could fill up with notes throughout the weekend. I remember how special it was to read all the notes, especially from younger students, and I still go back to them when I’m feeling discouraged. The best thing about writing gratitude notes? It’s free!
Here’s one of the notes my friends wrote me:
“Mia, you are my pride and joy. My only request is that we became friends sooner. You always find a way to make me feel better. We have struggled through the good and bad together. I can’t wait for our future memories.”
- Make them feel at home (literally)
One of my favorite things about Italian culture is its focus on hospitality. Last semester, I studied abroad in Milan, Italy. I remember the first small group Bible study I attended at my church in Milan, and how welcomed I felt as a newcomer. The family hosting the small group had invited me to their home, cooked for us, and made me feel like family. This act of kindness inspired me to join the hospitality team at my church in Boston, and I hope to pass this spirit of giving on to others. Showing hospitality doesn’t mean you need to craft a perfect three-course meal – It can be as simple as ordering someone a coffee with your discretionary money or inviting someone to sit with you at the dining hall. The little things can still go a long way.
- Lend a helping hand
Let’s face it — grocery shopping isn’t the most fun way to spend a Saturday. I personally try to minimize the amount of time I spend in the grocery store or running errands in general. Part of being a college student is learning how to be independent and do the mundane but necessary tasks on your own. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help others out here and there. As strange as it may sound, filling up your friend’s gas or picking up their laundry is an act of love. Show gratitude for all they do for you by giving that kindness back. If you’re going home for Thanksgiving, help your family out in the kitchen or offer to do that last-minute grocery shopping or clean up after the guests leave.
- Be there for them
This tip is less tangible, but just as important. The best friends are those who sacrifice their time and energy and show up for you – in the good times and the hard times. Sometimes, the most meaningful gift is our undivided attention. Check in with friends who you haven’t heard from to make sure they’re OK. Celebrate their wins, and support them in their losses. Be fully present when your friend is talking. Be willing to be uncomfortable to comfort someone else. Genuine friendships like these are hard to come by, so nurture them.
I hope this short list gives you some inspiration to spread some positivity this Thanksgiving season. Whether we realize it or not, we all have the capacity to give something – our time, talents, hospitality, attention, and more. And remember, giving thanks doesn’t end after Thanksgiving. Let’s make gratitude a year-round trend.