Family Relationships

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Becoming Thankful and Grateful

When you're a member of the Sandwich Generation, it's not easy to take care of your family in flux - growing children and aging parents. With all the stresses you face daily, preparing for Thanksgiving may seem like another added burden. But this year, why not make a plan to bring some new traditions to your holiday table which will lower your levels of stress and raise the levels of meaning for the whole family?
Family eating Thanksgiving dinner

In your busy life, sometimes it's hard to focus on what you are thankful for but once you do, you can begin to acknowledge the part others play in your happiness. A leader the field of Positive Psychology, Dr. Marty Seligman studies what brings Authentic Happiness to your life. He has created questionnaires to help you recognize your gratitude, optimism, strength, compassion and love as well as techniques to increase your positive emotions. Here are some steps to help you get started in looking at your gratitude:

Begin to consciously notice what brings you joy. Strange as it may sound, you'll need to actually set aside time to pay attention to what you are experiencing when you are feeling happy and grateful. Awareness is the first step toward creating any change.

Count your blessings. Each evening, note three things that happened during the day for which you are thankful. Be specific as you describe what happened to you. It could be a loving conversation with your partner, a hug from your teenage daughter, a lunch date with an old friend.

Re-live and savor each of these events. Spend time re-creating in your mind the happiness of the experience. You will feel your body becoming more relaxed, your emotions more positive and your thoughts more focused. The joys of life are not only in present activities but also in remembering pleasurable occasions you have already experienced.

Think about what you did to open yourself to these moments. Then decide to direct your actions to include more of these delights in your life. Recognizing your own personal power will strengthen your belief in yourself as well as your willingness to consider the part others play in your happiness.

Realize why this piece of good fortune came your way. It will help you identify the people you're grateful to have in your life. You can then thank them for playing a part in improving your world.

elderly man carving roast turkey at the table with friends and family

Deciding to focus on giving thanks means a whole new mindset. When you count your blessings - at Thanksgiving or any time during the year - you can act on the gratitude you experience and live a rich life no matter what else is going on around you.

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