Happiness Through Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a holiday that most people associate with eating. Getting full and sitting around with family is what Thanksgiving is all about, right? Well, according to some scientific research you should lean into the gratitude aspect of the holiday to reap the greatest benefits.
When was the last time that you said, “thank you”?
Can you even recall?
Well, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise because men statistically display gratitude less frequently than women. Sometimes, men view gratitude as a sign of weakness. We don’t like to ask for help and that might create fewer opportunities to show our appreciation.
“Yeah, I was going to get that myself, but you did it first. So…ummm…yeah.”
Men also tend to shield themselves from the burden of obligation. If someone does something nice for you, then you’ll have to do something nice in return. Instead of simply saying “thank you”, men ruminate on hidden meanings behind someone’s actions.
“Why are you always trying to help me with my workout? I know what I’m doing.”
Generosity can also trigger a sense of competitiveness in men who seek a way to outdo their counterparts. Gratitude becomes something like a game to them in which the winner is someone who can display a greater level of generosity.
“Since you got me a box of cigars for my birthday, I’m going to get you a box of authentic Cuban cigars for your wedding next month.”
Todd Kashdan, associate professor of psychology at George Mason University conducted a study on gratitude in 2009. Kashdan was particularly keen on exploring the reasons why men and women differ so much in how they accept and display gratitude.
“The way that we get socialized as children affects what we do with our emotions as adults,” says Kashdan. “Because men are generally taught to control and conceal their softer emotions, this may be limiting their well-being.”
How to Get the Most out of Thanksgiving
Since gratitude is so important to a person’s overall wellbeing, men should try to foster a better relationship with it. Thanksgiving presents a unique opportunity to do just that. It’s the holiday of gratitude, but most people just focus on the food and football.
There’s a missed opportunity here for men. Since Thanksgiving is widely recognized as a time when everyone can be grateful for something, then why not place a greater emphasis on gratitude this year? There are many different ways to express gratitude. It can be very concrete and personal. You can be grateful for the people in your life or the fruits of your hard labor. You can also be grateful for the immaterial things in your life such as the feeling of contentment or joy of simply being alive.
This Thanksgiving you could be grateful for:
- Good health
- Financial stability
- Good luck
- Professional qualifications
- Personal achievements
- Family and friends
- Unique opportunities
- Talents and skills
- The chance to live another day
The list of things you could be grateful for could go on and on. Thanksgiving can be a catalyst for recalling some of the things that you are grateful for, things that you haven’t given much thought to in the past. If you’re still not convinced that this Thanksgiving should be all about gratitude, then check out a few more reasons why gratitude is so awesome.
Gratitude Can Make You Feel More Content
The emotion of gratitude creates joy in both the recipient of something special and the person who contributed the gift. Just as much as people like to hear the words “thank you”, people also feel good when expressing genuine gratitude toward others. It’s a win-win emotion.
It’s viewed as a significant emotion for feeling more content and satisfied with life. Being grateful for certain aspects of your life increases your perceived value of those things. Gratitude also makes you less likely to seek out more of everything to fill the voids inside of you.
Gratitude Can Help You Build Social Bonds
If you want to make friends and build better social connections, then you should say “thank you” as much as possible. When you display the capacity for gratitude in social situations, people tend to view you as someone who is genuine and trustworthy.
It’s backed up by science. Back in 2014, University of New South Wales conducted an experiment on building social bonds. The research team found that simply thanking a new acquaintance increased the likelihood that they would become a long-term friend.
The experiment was designed to test a gratitude theory called “Find. Bind. Remind.” This find-remind-and-bind theory suggests gratitude helps people develop new relationships (find), build on existing relationships (remind), and maintain both (bind).
Gratitude Can Boost Your Academic Performance
If you’re struggling to find motivation for school or getting boring tasks done, then maybe you should start keeping a gratitude journal. It might sound unrelated, but there’s a link between gratitude and academic performance.
Researchers at Ritsumeikan University in Japan published a study in 2021 that sought ways to boost the performance and motivation of college students. They found that students who kept a gratitude journal for just 2 weeks had higher levels of academic motivation that lasted for months.
A Final Reminder about Gratitude
For some people, Thanksgiving can be a time of depression or anxiety. There’s certain pressure that comes from getting together with family or not having family around when everyone else is celebrating. You might feel overwhelmed or just plain sad.
Gratitude is a way of alleviating all those stresses and simplifying troubling times. By acknowledging what’s good about life, however small, you attach yourself to greater values. You take the focus off the problems that hold you down and remember the aspects of life that lift you up.
So, stuff your face if you want, but be sure to add an extra helping of gratitude as you go. It might last all the way to the new year or at least help you to forget how much you overate this year.