Try the Gratitude Experiment

Gratitude

Last week, I found a list of stores that wouldn’t be open on Thanksgiving. I shared the list with friends saying that I wanted to make a special effort to do business with stores that chose to honor the holiday that I believe represents so much of what makes our country special.

My cousin, Melinda Henderson Kyzar, a missionary in Prague, sent a message agreeing with my assessment. Her dad was a missionary in Korea and the Philippines. Though she’s as American as can be, she has spent most of her life living in other countries.
After reading my list of stores, she sent me a message to say that she agrees. She said she was in the States for a few days recently looking for Thanksgiving decorations to take back to Prague
“I found it surprisingly difficult to find much because Christmas retail was already in full-swing. I wondered if America wasn’t going to give up Thanksgiving altogether one of these days,” she wrote.
She went on to ask if it wasn’t possible for us to keep one day set aside to give thanks and not make people work at retail stores?
“I have lived overseas for most of my life and have seen how foreigners have a fascination with American Thanksgiving. It is a unique holiday that is so much a part of the soul and emotions of Americans — that we can never adequately explain it to them. We need that day,” she said.
I believe she’s right. Gratitude is such a vital part of living an abundant and happy life. Scientists have proven time and again that being grateful simply makes people happier — and being grateful is something that we can actively work toward. It’s not like saying, “I need to be happier,” and then sit and try to be happy. Being grateful is active. We can demonstrate our gratitude to others. Being grateful can be practiced.
After years of research, psychologist John Gottman recently announced in a study that lasting relationships come down to two things — kindness and gratitude. Gottman and his wife have researched what makes relationships work for the past four decades, studying thousands of couples.
While the Gottmans research couples and relationships, I believe almost all lasting relationships come down to those two traits.
In my book, kindness is trickier that gratitude. Sometimes when I’ve sincerely tried to be kind, I later learn that my actions were misinterpreted. Don’t worry — that won’t stop my efforts toward kindness! However, my real point is that while gratitude may seem to be about what we offer others, it is so much more about what being grateful to others does for ourselves.
Gratitude makes us happier.
Gratitude makes us better friends.
Gratitude makes us better parents.
Gratitude makes us better children.
Gratitude makes us better employees.
Gratitude makes us better managers.
It just makes us better all the way around.
And this week, we have a whole day set aside to focus on being grateful. May each of us use this week and time to reinforce a daily practice of gratitude throughout the year.
Try an experiment of reminding yourself to say and demonstrate your thanks at least five times a day. Try to tell people thanks in real time – sincerely, but if you realize you haven’t said thanks to enough people before you go to bed, send them a thank you email. Whatever it takes, just be and show your gratefulness.
See what happens. I’d love to hear about your results.
Therefore, go and be grateful!

Email Jan Risher at jan@janrisher.com

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