Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a once a year deal. You can use the “Thanksgiving Effect” to feel happier year-round. Study after study proves that saying “thanks” regularly can have the same mood boosting benefits as prescription medication – without the negative side effects.
In fact, gratitude is so powerful there’s a whole field of research dedicated to it. Dr. Robert Emmons is a leader in the field and the author of The Psychology of Gratitude. He says being grateful increases your chances of being successful in work, love and life. So, here’s how to use gratitude everyday:
The next time you have a small setback – like a fight with a friend or a stressful assignment from the boss – jot a note to a friend or relative thanking them for doing something that made you happy. People who do that automatically feel stronger in the face of adversity.
If a friend does you a favor – don’t say “I owe you one.” Being indebted to someone increases feelings of stress. Instead, just say thanks. Data from the Institute of Heart Math shows that people who regularly feel appreciation toward others have healthier heartbeats.
Writing in a gratitude journal is another way to add years to your life, but it doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. People who list the things they’re thankful for only once a week get the same benefits as those who write daily.
You can even use gratitude to reduce your stress on the way to work. People who are stressed out and unhappy at work are more susceptible to heart attack and stroke. You can squash all those negative effects on the way in. No matter how late you’re running, do a gratitude exercise. Focus on everything that’s gone right. The dog did his business outside – your wife looked pretty as she kissed you goodbye – or even that the traffic isn’t at a standstill. Thinking those thoughts will immediately boost your enthusiasm, alertness and energy – and reduce your blood pressure and stress.