Professional Development

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Extending Gratitude Throughout the Year

It's the time of year where we try to pause and take a moment to give thanks for the wonderful things in life—even through all of the things that keep us undeniably busy in our daily lives.

But what if this year, we moved Thanksgiving from Thursday to Friday? When I suggested this idea, my husband entertained the idea for less than two seconds and said, "Why would we do that?"

My response: "Wouldn't it be great—since we're so busy—to spread the fun into two days, rather than one?"

The reasoning sounded so silly when I said it out loud. I've never wanted to be one of those people who is too busy to be appreciative, so I am making a Thanksgiving resolution: Stop thinking about being busy, slow down and show gratitude every day, not just the fourth Thursday in November.

Implementing this way of thinking has its proven benefits. This article from TIME indicates that being grateful throughout the year can make you more patient, improve your relationships and self-care and can even keep you from overeating and help you get better (and more) sleep!

So, I'm starting my resolution today by being grateful for traditions that include important things like spending time with family, cooking together, and watching football.

Want to join me in practicing gratitude throughout the year? Here is a list of five simple ideas to try.

  1. Say "thank you" more often and—if you really are grateful—say more than just "thanks": Be specific about what you appreciate.
  2. Write handwritten thank-you notes to family or colleagues and send via snail mail, or drop the note in a place where they'll find it when they're least expecting it.
  3. Keep a daily gratitude journal—or at the end of each day, list on your calendar three things you are grateful for. Look back at what you've written every several weeks. You might be surprised at how much there is to be grateful for!
  4. Share positive posts on social media. Couldn't Facebook use a little pick-me-up?
  5. Appreciate somebody? Let them know and tell them why!

Written by Heidi Ham, Vice President, Programs and Strategy at the National AfterSchool Association.