It may be a secret you already know, but why don’t we implement it into our daily lives? Whenever I feel out of balance, stressed, and concerned about my well-being, I ask myself, am I practicing gratitude enough? Am I giving enough?
Honestly, the Holiday Season warms my heart in ways that aren’t describable. Incredible moments of life with friends and family flash before my eyes. I feel all types of warmth radiating from the people in my life. What do I do with that warmth? I share it and give it to as many people as I can!
How does this show up in my daily life? By giving love to the people around me. Currently, I’m a first and second grade after school teacher at the Boys & Girls Club of Emerald Valley. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my first job choice coming out of college, but being a positive role model is a core value of mine. At the beginning of the school year, I found myself continually being frustrated with the kids and their behavior. It didn’t seem like they were ever behaving “up to par.”
Upon reflecting, I decided it was time for an attitude change. Instead of hoping for the kids to listen and follow directions like robots, I decided to be grateful for my position and give as much love to them as possible. After conversations with my therapist, something hit me, I get to play for a living! How lucky am I that I get to spend every afternoon being silly and curious with first and second graders? Shifting my attitude to gratitude has immensely enhanced my experience at the club. I show up to work every day now, excited, and ready to be silly and pour love into the kids.
Another example of giving and gratitude in my life is with my girlfriend. At the beginning of our relationship, I was significantly more selfish and wanted the relationship to revolve around me. Of course, we’ve had our ups and downs in the past year. But recently, I’ve really been focused on giving as much love as possible to her. Of course, we don’t always agree on everything or even want to do the same things. But, we do give each other all the love that we can be enhancing our life to a whole new level we’ve never been.
Gratitude and giving are not some New Age ideas. Some studies show sending gratitude letters was associated with “substantial improvements in optimism” and “lower levels of depression, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts/attempts.”
Furthermore, another research study proved that participants who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health” than those who did not write gratitude letters.
It’s not just gratitude that is scientifically proven to enhance your life. In this study, the person giving to a food bank experienced “dopamine release in the brain in the same areas that respond when you eat a dessert or receive money.”
This may explain why giving feels as good as eating cake and ice cream!
Six Ways to Implement More Gratitude and Giving in Your Busy Life
Go out of your way to do something extra kind for a friend, family member, or significant other
Reflect on all the things you are truly grateful for: examples could be as simple as clean running water, and as deep as I’m grateful my partner complements me in ways I could never imagine
Donate money or time to a person or organization you believe is doing great work
Go on gratitude walks — listing as many things you are grateful for as possible
Ask questions, and get to know people! Give your listening ears and connect with your fellow humans
Find at least one thing you’re grateful about in your job or school
Gratitude and giving is the secret to living that will bring true happiness into your life.