Giving Thanks: How Gratitude Can Improve Your Life

This article is repost and re-edited from my 2010 post, just in time for Thanksgiving day! Not really shopping Grey Thursday or Black Friday or Cyber Mondays deals here. Just pure Thanks, Gratitude and feeling of contented-ness!


We as an Indians just celebrated festival of Diwali last month, which is Major Hindu Indian festival celebrated through out India. Living in USA also means, we also celebrate other festivals such as Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Holidays makes many of us in festive, generous mood and I can feel the festivities, parties and business around that comes with holidays.

Along with generosity and Thanksgiving holidays, the point of these holiday is to remember things that we are thankful in our life for. We should thankful for not just for food, water and shelter but many more little and big moments and events and blessing that we get every day and through out the year.

Being thankful is easy to say but hard to follow sometimes, when we are going through some issues in our lives. We as people tend to remember bad memories and things much more than good deeds. I want to show you how giving thanks or gratitude can change and improve our life. We should be thankful and show gratitude not only during holidays but through out the year.

Here are a few ways we can give thanks and gratitude, through out the year.

  1. Write down things in Gratitude Journal: When I started writing in one, I started writing everything in it like good and bad and ugly things, that should be your regular journal should be. However, gratitude Journal should only have positive and things that we are truly happy for.  For example, I wrote yesterday: “I am truly grateful to see sunny day in November.” It does not have to be life changing, simple thanks surely adds up.
  2. Focus on What you have: Many times we compare ourselves with other people so much that we forget many good things we already have. For example, “I am truly fortunate to simplified my life to point that we can survive with savings while we are trying to focus on our passion and compassion for life”.
  3. Thank your Spouse and Kids: Your life is going smoothly is might be because the help we get from family and friends around. Friends and family makes life worth living and more enjoyable. For example, I was feeling bit down right now and my 5 year old R came and give me a kiss and told me a joke. That totally changed my mood. I am also thankful to Zenguy, who is watching both kids so I can finish writing this article. That are many small and big things that our friends and family do, through out the year for us, let us thank them from bottom of our heart.
  4. Thank your Parents: Your parents have done so many things for you since you were born. I did not realize how blessed and hardworking parenting can be until I had my first child. Now, life has become very busy and hectic but I truly appreciate my mom and dad, who took care for me, taught me things to make a better person.
  5. Thank you In-laws: In many culture in-laws can be dreaded words as some of the in-laws tend of overly critical of you or very possessive of your spouse that may make pleasing them bit harder. There are good in-laws also who become your second sets of parents for you. Regardless of how you feel about your in-laws, I think we should thank them. I am truly thankful to my in-laws for raising a wonderful guy like Zenguy, who is good husband, best friend and greatest dad and most of all kind human being who wants me to make my life more positive.
  6. Thank your friends: Friends are family that we choose for ourselves. Many times friends have been there for us, when we were down, when we needed some lifting up. You may have one good friend or many, thank them for truly what they do everyday, just for being there for you.
  7. Thank other people you do not know: Now, this might be a alien concept, how to thank someone you do not know but it can be done. Many times people are helping you without us realizing it. For example, I am truly thankful for parents who started homeschooling and making it legal in USA so that I can choose to home school my kids today, if that is what I choose to do. I am thankful for technology advantages to I can blog today and share my thoughts to who wants to read.
  8. Think positive from bad situation: If you thought #7 was tough, this may seem even harder and tough. How can we see anything positive from a bad or worse situation. I will show you how, for example, “I am thankful to that slow driver who cut in front of me so I had to slow down and avoided getting a speeding ticket from a police who was just 200 yards from where I was.”  Do you see the difference? There is a silver lining or positive in almost all situation, so let’s try to improve out life by thinking positive.
  9. Thank Animals: Many times we only think of thanking only humans and our loved ones, when we stretch the limit to thank other living things in life that have given joy, our life truly becomes happier as it is filled with gratitude. For example, I had great fun with my brother’s dog Ruby and my room mate’s dog, when I took them walking, and playing with them, they gave me unconditional love and tremendous joy. If you have dog, cat, fish or any pet that gave you moment of joy and cheer, thank them truly. Think about the any animals that have given joy in your life: Dogs that love you as soon as they see you or  cats that think your lap is the best place to nap in the whole world, birds whose songs uplift your spirit and so on.
  10. Thanks Plants and Vegetables: Have you ever visited a tranquil garden with flowers, butterflies and bird chirping? It has so calming and soothing effect on me and I am sure many of you as well. I am thankful to all trees that have provided shade to me from sun’s heat, flowers with beautiful colors which has given me an inspiration to draw something or sing a song. And most of all, I am thankful to all vegetables and fruit plants to give me nourishment to live and eat healthier.

How to share Gratitude and give Thanks in simple ways

While some things may sound weird to a few of you, go ahead try it. there are many ways to take your part in random act of kindness and you can help during bad economy too.

  • Thank someone or something today. If friend has helped you, send him or her an email or call and just say thank you for being there.
  • Hug your spouse and kids, just because they are part of your life.
  • Tell your parents how much you appreciate them
  • Sing a song with bird in garden, even though you think you can not sing.
  • Find a positive in worse situation to lift up your mood.
  • Pick up garbage and put in trash bin, just because you want to.
  • Give thanks not only during holidays but every day.
  • Write in your Gratitude Journal for things that makes you happy and smile
  • Make someone happy today
  • Help someone at grocery store, who might be struggling with bags
  • If you see any child cry somewhere, instead of being critical, help the mom or dad to see if you can help.

This article is my contribution to Eric’s Eden Journal’s this month’s campfire. See below.

Your Turn:

How do you give thanks? Do you have gratitude Journal?  Did you share your gratitude with anyone today?

Check out other related articles:
Being enlightened
How to reuse Halloween Candies
Stress Free Thanksgiving Party


What is the Personal Development Campfire?
Imagine all your favorite personal development bloggers gathered around a campfire. Campfires are great center pieces of relaxed and free flowing conversations. Think of all the wonderful conversations and the wealth of topics that might arise. That’s the idea behind the Personal Development Campfire. Your favorite bloggers all gathered together discussing a new topic every month. (Bloggers click here for details on participating in the Personal Development Campfire.)


  1. Eden Journal
  2. Giving Thanks: Heart and Mind
  3. 5 Reasons to Give Thanks | Han of Harmony
  4. Gratitude – How to be thankful in trying times

Image: br3akthru / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Author: This post is written by Preeti who writes under name of Zengirl on Heart and Mind Blog. She writes articles about self improvement, stress free and slow living and believes in slow blogging.

If you liked this article, please subscribe to Heart and Mind blog for FREE via RSS Feed or email.


 
I am stay at home with 2 kids, married to my best friend zenguy. I am in to simplifying, slow and sustainable living, I am frugal, love reading, writing and watching romantic movies. I believe in family, friendship and community.

49 comments

  1. taurian says:

    Hi preethi ,

    I never celebrated Thanks giving day till day in special.
    If I do it, people around me will definitely may thing it’s an artificial thought.
    I don’t understand why we require a day called thanks giving.
    According to me
    In my heart,
    I always thank my mom and dad for giving such a wonderful life.
    I always thank ma sis for being with me all the time and making me up and running when ever I’m down.
    For all this, I don’t require a day…. All it requires is ma presence which makes them feel rich…
    I dnt knw whtr I am right or wrong…
    It’s an open question to all!
    Why do we require a day to thank our beloved ones or others or someone who is very close to heart?
    Be with the ones and let your presence make them feel comfortable which will really make you feel, every moment, every second, every day, every minute a thanks giving event.
    Please do not lock your emotions and put it across in a specific day, which is definitely an artificial stuff….
    Try being yourself natural and make thanks “giving day” every day.
    It’s just my opinion.

  2. ZenGirl says:

    Taurian,

    I am glad that you thank your parents, sister, wished we all were like that and did not need a reminder. Thanks for your detailed comment on this subject.

    If you read my post again I am NOT asking or telling any one that, one have to be thankful only on thanksgiving day or even celebrate thanksgiving. We should ideally share joy everyday and be thankful and show gratitude everyday.

    Maybe other commenter can elaborate on your comment further. Being thankful has sure made my life bit positive and believe me sometimes I have to work at feeling gratitude just like everyone else.

  3. Eric | Eden Journal says:

    Preeti,
    Thanks for participating in the Personal Development Campfire this month. Your posts always feel so complete, like you’ve thought of everything and there’s not much else to say. I absolutely love the idea of giving thanks to people you do not know. That thought had never occurred to me, and it’s such a wonderful idea. I’ve often been thankful for the inventions and things created by those before me, but it makes sense to be thankful for the people behind those things.

  4. The Vizier says:

    Hi Preeti,

    I agree with you. We should be thankful and show gratitude throughout the year. It is so easy for us to take people or things in our lives for granted. Only when we lose the people or things that we hold dear do we come to appreciate its value and have regrets. Why not be grateful and live a life without regrets instead?

    2. Focus on what you have

    Learning to be content does wonders for our inner harmony. When we focus on what we don’t have, we disrupt our inner peace. But if we are able to appreciate what we have, it would do wonders for our soul.

    Thanking people

    I like how you make it a point to be grateful to the people you know and those whom you do not know. Being grateful for people in our lives let’s them know that we appreciate them. Appreciation and acknowledgement is important to the deepening of any relationship. Cultivating an air of gratefulness will do you wonders as well in your interaction with others.

    8. Think positive from bad situation

    There is nothing good or bad in life, only thinking makes it so. Whenever we face a challenge, it helps to remember that these are important lessons that life is trying to teach us. We can reject them, but it would only be to our detriment. It would be more prudent to accept the lessons which are necessary for your growth. Being grateful helps in your acceptance of what you must learn.

    Thanking Animals and Plants

    I agree with thanking animals and plants. Animals are adorable and give love with openness and trust. If you have a pet, their lives are in your hands. Being grateful for such a sacred responsibility will help you to forge a deeper bond with your pet. As for plants and vegetables, they are the natural way that nature beautifies this world. We should also give thanks for such beauty which many of us may take for granteed.

    Thank you for sharing this post!

  5. ZenGirl says:

    Eric,

    I am happy to participate in campfire, often time topics are something I also care and passionate about so it comes out in post. So far, I have liked all topic/subject for the campfire.

    Thank you for kind words, I enjoyed writing this piece and I am thankful to zenguy, because of that I was able to spend quality time needed to write this best.

  6. ZenGirl says:

    Irving,

    I am so happy you decided to take part in this month’s campfire. Wow, what a detailed response, I am speechless and awed, thank you for being you.

    I truly started feeling grateful and compassionate toward all living being about a few years ago, and it was a slow start but I will share this that it has made my life quality much better since I started to care for plants, insects, animals and all. It may look strange to some that why thank something like plants and insects but it does make it difference when we do it from heart.

    Thanks again.

  7. Marko -- Calm Growth says:

    Brilliant introduction… :) I do not have “Gratitude Journal” but the idea to write only positive things for which we are grateful is amazing! I have not heard for that so far…

    That really forced me to think… I mean, just imagine the person who writes only negative things in his diary. That person would bypass all the good things and would be sad… Exactly the same way, the person who would focused his mind on the things he is grateful, would be extremely strong and happy. I can not believe what a great idea! I have to try it! Thanks Preeti!

  8. Farnoosh says:

    Hi Preeti, this is so timely – after spending 2 weeks creating this ebook in all formats for my readers as a big thank you for their readership, I can’t agree with you more. Saying thank you AND showing it is crucial; you just can’t do it too many times! :)

  9. Evelyn says:

    Hi Preeti,

    This is a post that I needed to read. I am always focused more on the bad things and I often overlook all the wonderful people and things that are around me. With so much bad stuff out here, it would be best to focus on the good and the positive. It really makes us feel good! ;)

    I like the idea of having a Gratitude Journal and I will start one. I think it will help me focus and be more positive about everything in my life.

    Thanks for reminding me that I need to be thanksful and show my appreciation in all areas of my life.

    Have a great day!

    Evelyn

  10. Heather Whistler says:

    One other thing that always helps me appreciate my life and all the good things in it is saying thank you to God/my Higher Power every morning and every night. The more I say “thank you,” the more I see all the things I have to be grateful for. :)

  11. Dia says:

    Hi Preeti,

    Very nice post on gratitude! I personally give thanks for everything that I have every morning. I have a list that I go over daily for around 20 minutes. Gratitude is really powerful, it gives you peace of mind, improves your life, and it relaxes you. Thanks for sharing

  12. Betsy Bargain says:

    I agree with you that we should be thankful every day. That’s why Mr. Bargain and I always mention one thing we are grateful for every time we sit down for a meal. I consider myself pretty aware of all I have to be thankful for, but you have brought up some people/situations I never even thought of that improve my life every day! I will remember to be grateful for them in the future!

  13. Mary R says:

    Oh, I’m a big believer in gratitude journals, and I write down a list of 10 things every night before I go to bed. It’s one of the things I look forward to most in my day, and you know what? I often have way more than 10 on my list!

  14. Dawn says:

    I don’t have a Gratitude Journal although I did once write a list of things I was grateful for and every day for a month I read the list out loud.

    I try to start the day with gratitude by thinking of things I am grateful for just before I get out of bed in the morning. It does get your day off to a really good start.

  15. Evelyn Lim says:

    I like your giving thanks to the animals and plants. You’ve certainly thought of everything!! I like the idea of keeping a gratitude journal to keep us focused on positive feelings!

  16. ZenGirl says:

    Evelyn,

    Many times we are good to thank people we know and care for, but many times, people we never know, animals, birds and plants are so helpful to us. When we thank everything around us, we complete to compassion circle in my mind. I think you will love gratitude journal as well.

  17. ZenGirl says:

    Dawn,

    Gratitude Journal could be simple notebook or paper you write what are you thankful for and looking it when things are down can change our mood to better. It sure does work with me. I think you have great way to start a morning, I like that.

  18. ZenGirl says:

    Mary,

    I love writing in my gratitude journal, I do not do it everyday as I should but I write everything down that makes me thankful. I like the idea of writing things down before going to bed, what a great to end a day.

  19. ZenGirl says:

    Besty,

    I think you and Mr. Bargain are very wise to share gratitude everyday, sharing at meal time is perfect! I am glad you liked the other ideas from the post. I really believe in all these 10 steps and it has made my life more sunnier because I am thankful and grateful.

  20. ZenGirl says:

    Dia,

    Thank you for liking the post. I think it is great idea to go through thanks and list in morning, it starts off day right. Some people do it at night, whatever works. Gratitude sure can improve our thinking and our lives and like you said, it gives us peace of mind and relaxes us too.

  21. ZenGirl says:

    Heather,

    Saying thank you to a God or higher power is such a great idea. They have said, a prayer can calm a distressed mind and soul. Yes, many time we do not realize how lucky we are compared to many people as we tend to focus on negative. I like writing things in gratitude journal or share it with family members so I realize how many great things are happening around my life.

  22. ZenGirl says:

    Evelyn,

    I am happy that you liked the post. I sometimes also get worked up on what did not work and what needs improving in my life, I need something like Zenguy, kids or Gratitude journal to remind me how wonderful my life can be. Thinking positive and feeling gratitude also rubs on people around me and they tends to be more at peace and thankful themselves so it has double the advantages.

    Hope you are having a great day.

  23. ZenGirl says:

    Farnoosh,

    We all have reasons to be thankful to many people, including our blog readers. I am sure your readers (including me) would love this ebook that you created. If we do good deed, it always comes back to us as a good deed from someone, so keep up the great work.

    I am not always thankful, specially when I am overtired but writing things down in gratitude journal along with faces of my family keeps me grounded and grateful.
    Like I would not have been to write this long post without zenguy watching and playing with the kids. :)

  24. ZenGirl says:

    Marko,

    Thank you. You do not need gratitude journal, you can write it in any peace of paper, or computer or even talk to your girlfriend or someone what you are thankful for will have same effect. I used to write in journal, but it was all type: positive, negative and petty things that happened in my life. Now, I have one place for only positive things in my life to focus on positivity and things I am truly thankful for.

    If you try it, let me know how it works out? How is life in your new city and place?

  25. rob white says:

    I love this Preeti. When giving gratitude somethings are very obvious… but giving thanks to things like animals, vegetables and in-laws is very powerful. It makes us remember we are all one part of a fantastic whole. I make it a habit to daily give thanks for something that I could have easily taken for granted (today I gave thanks for all the new leafs that fell in my yard).

  26. Steve@Lifestyle Design says:

    Preeti,

    Very important stuff. I think many people are negative and unhappy because they simply never take the time to think of all the things that they really should be happy for!

    My blogging friend Mark had a similar idea that was very interesting… http://blogs.hotpotpourri.com/secrets-of-success/ His last couple of posts have been a about a challenge he is trying to do to write down 50 things he is thankful for everyday.

    It is a a large number, but as the ideas begin to flow it really shows you that everyone truly has a lot to be thankful for. It is often the small beauties in life that people take for granted that are actually some of the most amazing and wonderful things out there.

  27. Derek says:

    Hi Preeti!

    Yes, gratitude can be very powerful, and actually scientifically verified. Some researchers did a study where test subjects wrote down five things they were grateful for at the end of the day, and it significantly increased their happiness! Giving thanks to plants and animals is interesting. I’ve never thought about it, but I’m sure it works because (as with the gratitude journal) the recipient of the thanks doesn’t even need to know about it for the “thanker” to feel happier!

  28. Vaishali says:

    Preeti, a gratitude journal is a lovely idea– and one I absolutely have to adopt. You’re so right– it’s important to remember the gifts we have, and almost each of us has something to be grateful for, no matter how tough our lives may seem at times. Thanks for an inspiring post.

  29. ZenGirl says:

    Vaishali,

    I found that writing and saying things we are grateful for, instead of ONLY thinking it, has double my inner peace in my life and I am sure it will do same to you. We are here and living thanks to many wonderful people, animals, birds, and plants/trees. We have so much to be thankful for.

  30. ZenGirl says:

    Derek,

    Yes, gratitude and giving thanks has done similar effect on me, and I am not surprised about that research finding. Giving thanks to tress have given us shade, fruits, etc and animals can play with us and make us happy with their unconditional love. Being happy is much easier this way for me and many of us.

  31. ZenGirl says:

    Steve,

    Good seeing you here. I have noticed since I am working on giving sincerer gratitude, life has improved, so is my inner peace and happiness. I know someone who is negative and critical of everyone and no surprise that she is bit miserable. I will check out Mark’s post, I do not know if I know his blog yet.

    Being thankful for 1 thing or 50 things does not matter as long we are showing gratitude and it will not matter if the person being thanked knows or not. As long as we do it from heart.

  32. ZenGirl says:

    Rob,

    I am glad you liked this post. Many times, we only thank people we know but there are many people and other living things can be contributing to our life’s success and happiness. It is full circle of compassion that we are part of this earth and everything in it, effect us in good or not so good way.

    You gave thanks to leaves! That is unique my friend. Good for you.

  33. Sibyl - alternaview says:

    Preeti: Great post and a reminder of how important it is to have something that we routinely do to express our gratitude. I really do think that it is important and it keeps us from getting so sucked in to the hustle and bustle of life that we overlook things that are really important that we should notice and appreciate. I do like the idea of a gratitude journal. I think it is also good to use your down time during the day to reflect on things you appreciate. There is so much time we could put to good use, like when we are waiting at a stop light or in the shower or driving to work. I think we can really maximize that time by focusing on the things we appreciate.

  34. ZenGirl says:

    Sibyl,

    Yes, taking time to relax and appreciate can make our quality of life so much better. Too bad many of us are living rushed and hurried life to really sit back and enjoy it. I find that taking time to write and say thank yous in my life helps me give much needed mental and physical break too. Thanks for chiming in.

  35. Get Happy Life says:

    I really like the way you write – I found some older posts which I liked as well but I was unable to comment, though. Why are comments closed for older posts? I especially liked the post about helping unemployed friends and family members.

  36. Aileen says:

    Such a perfect time of year to celebrate gratitude! I loved this suggestion, “Sing a song with bird in garden, even though you think you can not sing” :)

    I do keep a gratitude journal and it always increase my gratitude even more – funny how that works – it really helps be more connected to gratitude and feel like there is a true abundance of it

  37. ZenGirl says:

    Aileen,

    I actually done it, I mean singing a song even though I may not the best singer! :-) It is catchy and fun. Living with gratitude through out the year changes the whole perspective in positive life. I am glad you too have gratitude journal, it sure helps.

  38. ZenGirl says:

    Get Happy,

    Thanks, if you can post comment with your name or nickname that would be much better.

    I close comments on older posts as I get so many spam comments, it is hard to manage. I am glad you like some of the old posts.

  39. Amy says:

    I try to look at a person and find something good within him. I know everybody has a cause for concern and if we just keep this in mind, we can bear the tantrums of a person close to us. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of understanding our fellow man to make us survive unpleasant moments. And this is something that makes me feel gratitude several times over.

  40. preeti says:

    Dear Preeti,Its so nice to read thoughts that i also believe in.Ive always been full of gratitude to God ,parents,teachers,strangers who helped me in simplest of ways even if its just by smiling at me,my friends relatives,my husband kids,waiters,maids anybody whom i have come across and who directly and indirectly have in good ways or bad ways have affected my life.
    Its so important to grateful in todays times,it makes u feel special and happy to have so many people around you who made who you are today and Ive started teaching the same thing to my kids.

  41. ZenGirl says:

    Preeti,

    Nice name! :-) Gratitude and giving thanks actually always made me feel good inside and outside. In modern days of “all about me” vs. being thankful has many benefits, I still work at it, as it is easy to fall in to routine and look for only negatives in life. If we truly sit down, there is much to be thankful for.

    I am glad you’re teaching your kids about being thankful, I am sure it will have positive impact in their lives.

    Zengirl

  42. ZenGirl says:

    Amy,

    Your comment was in my spam, you may want to use your name instead of keyword as akismet puts many in spam and some even deletes it before I get to see it.

    Good way to look at it about gratitude. Everyone has something good to offer, focusing on positives helps during unpleasant or uncomfortable situation.

    Zengirl

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