The Psychology of Thankfulness

On social media throughout November, you’ll see family members and friends participating in a thankfulness challenge by naming something they are thankful something every day of the month of November. You might also see others finding ways to celebrate being thankful and even participating in a month long celebration of gratitude through events or their actions. It is the perfect time of year to show thanks to those that impact our lives the rest of the year.

Annually the Thanksgiving holidays are a time to reflect over the past year and show appreciation to those around us. Not only is this a good feeling knowing that you were being appreciative to those who have helped you throughout the year, but also helps your mental state. For those that show thankfulness year round, their happiness is continuous.

“It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy.”

Physiologists often study the power of thankfulness and gratitude. This growing field of study has been termed “positive psychology.” It is, “the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play,” according to the Positive Psychology Center. When you are able to give thanks and show appreciation, your mental well being is affected for the better.

There are many ways to show thankfulness and gratitude to others around you. It can be simple gestures or elaborate meaningful displays, but any goodwill going into something special creates a cherished feeling. Our daily lives sometimes get in the way and we forget to slow down to be thankful to people that have helped us in our careers and lives. Here are some easy ways to show gratitude.

  • Send a handwritten thank you note
  • Give a small gift to someone – mailed or in person
  • Show your thanks verbally in front of others
  • Surprise someone with kindness
  • Invite them to a special event or place
  • Offer to do something for them
  • Share thanks on social media
  • Compliment them on a talent or skills
  • Give a larger tip that usual
  • Smile!
  • Exhibit patience
  • Listen fully
  • Give a detailed example of appreciation
  • Volunteer for a task
  • Always say thank you

These simple things can make you life more enjoyable to you and those around you. When studying psychology, students are able to study behaviors and mental processes. In the psychology program at Waldorf College, courses will introduce students to many subfields of psychology and choose to study experimental, developmental, social, cognitive, human factors and more. Be thankful for the opportunity for an education and show thanks to those around you year round.


Author: Claire Stewart

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