Why Gratitude May Be the Best Gift You Give This Year

hands holding a heart showing gratitudeIt’s the season of thanksgiving and gifting once again.

Per tradition, we rush around Houston shopping for presents and filling our pantries with items for the ritual feasts. We overdose on seasonal songs and sweet family movies. We busy ourselves with online wish lists. Then we pour on ourselves loads of Pinterest-perfect pressure to create a season worthy of Hallmark perfection.

Yes, some of us love the holidays. And some of us… well, not so much.

Either way, before things are in full swing, almost all of wish the same thing:

“Wouldn’t it be nice to give something really meaningful this year?”

So, what’s stopping you?  Top last year’s forgotten whatchamacallit, create the holiday atmosphere you dream of, and bring your loved ones close in the ways you’ve always longed for. Give the best gift you’ve ever given.

How? Give a gift worth giving and receiving with equal amounts of joy.

Why Gratitude is the Best Gift Ever

Of course, you know it’s good to be grateful. But, you may not realize what a gift it is for others to know how grateful you are for them. One word or action that communicates how much a loved one means to you is powerful.

To show grateful appreciation is to say “I accept what you have to offer. You belong with me and I want you to know how much I value you.”

There is nothing but delight and joy in the face of someone who receives that sincere a gift. There is nothing but happiness and enjoyment for you having taken the time to give it.

Being grateful for life and people naturally promotes positive emotional connection. You create a link between their world and yours that communicates love for much longer than the exchange of material goods ever could.

That’s the holiday spirit. So beneficial and well-received is a grateful spirit,  that even science confirms it’s value.

Recent studies show that people who demonstrate gratitude and appreciation in the relationships noticed an increase in responsiveness and overall relationship satisfaction. This feeling tended to last much longer than any material holiday gift as well. The data showed a positive impact for up to nine months!

In fact, well-known relationship expert Dr. John Gottman agrees. He notes in his research that it’s easy to predict which marriages will succeed or fail by how much appreciation and gratitude is expressed along with the other positive interactions in the relationship.

All told, the more you lavish the gift of gratitude on your friends, family, and community the less materialism and consumerism will detract from deeper interaction and expression. The more they know how much they mean to you, the more meaning, affection, compassion, and commitment grows between you.

When your loved ones know you’re grateful to have them, loneliness, envy, unforgiveness, and resentment have a hard time taking root.

Self-compassion is as important as gratitude to others. Take our quiz to find out how you respond to yourself during times of difficulty.

Why Gratitude is a Gift that Keeps on Giving (to You!)

Martin Seligman, a pioneering positive psychologist and researcher, notes in his work that there is a wealth of evidence to support that gratitude is key to a happy life. A general attitude of gratitude has been shown to reduce depressive thinking and symptoms by 35%. Gratitude research by Philip Watkins of Eastern Washington University indicates that gratitude actually acts as positive cognitive training for the brain too.

Grateful people tend to experience higher levels of positivity, vitality, and optimism. Not to mention the ability to seek out and revel in life for the pleasure of it. All characteristics that can make the holidays the joyful season it’s meant to be.

So what’s stopping you from giving your most meaningful gift? Make the most of the holidays. Thank the people in your life sincerely with your words, time and resources. What follows will be the gift of closer relationships and happier connections to enjoy for years to come.

If you’d like to learn how to be more grateful in your relationships, schedule an appointment with one of our Houston counselors today. Learning to give gratitude freely is not only a gift to others, but a wonderful gift to ourselves as well.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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