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Giving and Thanks

It’s the season of giving thanks and the season of giving. Since I am in the business of promoting well-being, resilience, and healthy relationships, it is the perfect time of year to discuss the ways that giving and giving thanks are good for you and your relationships.

According to Oxford dictionary

gratitude:  the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness 

to give/giving:  freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone)IMG_2232

Research suggests that gratitude improves mood, relationships, and general well-being. Noticing what you have, even during times of challenge or loss, is a sign of resilience. Our attention so easily focuses on the negative. It’s your brain’s way of protecting you, however often the negative focus isn’t helping you stay alive; instead it is contributing to you feeling down. Notice how it feels when you shift your attention from negative things like worries, slights, hurts, and hassles to things that you do have, that are going well, that are beautiful, and that are inspiring. If you don’t find much, look harder. Still don’t find much worthy of your gratitude?…Then do something that adds goodness and kindness to the world. Let the people, the groups, and/or the universe in general know that you are thankful for things big (like life, health, clothing, shelter, food, water) and small (something that made you laugh or smile, a good parking spot, puppies or cat videos). Get in the habit of looking for things every day for which you can be grateful.

Science also suggests that generosity is good for your well-being. Helping others is associated with lower stress, improved satisfaction at work, in your marriage, and general mental health. Offering the gifts of listening, support, kindness, and compromise or offering to help, share, and/or take turns encourages production of oxytocin, which encourages bonding and reduces stress. Want to feel better about yourself, the world, and your relationships? Consider ways to give (of your time, money, or resources) and ways to be appreciative. Think of ways you can do something positive today. Something or someone could benefit from you showing up. Sharing and caring feels good. It’s good for the recipient and also for you! How can you make a difference? So many ways! As the definition suggests, show appreciation, say “thank you,” return a kindness… pick up a piece of garbage, plant a tree, smile at some one, let some one else take that parking spot, offer a hug, adopt a pet, forgive, write a thank you card, the list is endless.

Giving and gratitude promote positive social connections, reduce stress and negativity, and improve well-being. There are so many ways, big and small, that you can give thanks and give of yourself. Research suggests that the return on such an investment is high. Especially during this season of giving thanks and of giving, in what ways can you improve your well-being, resilience, and relationships? Who can you thank? How can you show appreciation to someone you know? How can you show kindness to some one you don’t know or with whom you disagree? What can you give that makes your relationships, neighborhood, or community better? What can you do to help some one out? What can you give that puts a smile on someone’s face or makes their life better or easier? Count the ways you can give and count your blessings.

Wishing you a season of kindness, generosity, appreciation, and caring.

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