In just a few weeks, many Americans will gather with friends and family to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a time of reflection as the year winds down, a time to see loved ones all in one place around a table of mismatched chairs, and a time when many express gratitude for the people and things in their lives.

But what happens once the leftovers are put on standby for round two, after the table leaf is put back in the closet, and the “kids table” is gone? Thankfully, research continues to prove that a lifestyle of gratitude has many benefits, so here are many reasons why every day should be Thanksgiving. 

The benefits of being grateful

That warm and fuzzy feeling many who gather around the table get on the official day of giving thanks isn’t just the turkey’s tryptophan effect. According to the positive psychology approach, several studies have shown that a lifestyle of gratitude offers the following benefits:

            – Greater resistance to stress and depression

            – More positive outlook on life

            – Enhanced optimism

            – Increased happiness and satisfaction

            – Improved quality of sleep

            – Enriched relationships

            – Boosted energy

            – More peace of mind

            – Increased ability to remain present

            – Heightened patience, humility, and insight

How to uncover everyday appreciation     

Keep a gratitude journal: Using a notebook or an app on your phone, set aside time each week to jot down what you’re grateful for, as having a log of the good things in your life makes it hard not to see how lucky you really are.

Acknowledge everyday sources of happiness and satisfaction: Take the time to appreciate all the little things that made your day better.

Express appreciation: We all say thank you throughout the day, but how often do we actually show that we’re thankful?  Let the person know why you appreciate what they’ve done, how it helped you, or the way it made you feel. And remember that quality counts more than quantity.

Focus on fortunes, not failures: Humans are hardwired toward negativity, often dwelling on what went wrong or wasn’t done, and assuming the worst. If you find yourself feeling regretful or disappointed, refocus your thoughts on the positive aspects of the situation or conversation, and look for opportunities for growth.

A lifestyle of gratitude takes conscious effort, humility and a bit of vulnerability, but the benefits it can have on your health, well-being, resilience and relationships with others are well worth it. Take the time to truly appreciate someone or something today, and when someone shows appreciation for you, pay it forward by thanking someone else.

To learn more information about the benefits of giving thanks year-round, call the Employee Assistance Program for guidance and resources. The EAP is a voluntary and confidential work-based program available to federal civilian employees and the adult family members of civilians and military at no cost. 

Employee Assistance Program

Susan Loden, EAP Coordinator

804-734-9693

Soldiers Support Center

Bldg. 3400, Rm. 203