What is the “science of happiness?” Expressing gratitude offers many benefits. Feel a sense of genuine appreciation and boost your connection with others: community and family for starters.
For many, 2020 has been a year of crisis, grieving, isolation, and uncertainty. That’s a bundle of stressors right there! However, we can shore up our mental and physical health and well-being by bearing witness to the beauty in our lives.
We ARE happier when we are thankful. In the spirit of the month of Thanksgiving, here are some ideas for expressing and acknowledging the benefits of gratitude:
30. Start at home. What do you love? For me, it’s my fireplace. The mantle with art and personal treasures above, cats below on the hearth.
29. Start in your neighborhood. Compliment a neighbor on their flowers or seasonal wreath. If you don’t know them, introduce yourself. Or send an “atta boy” or “atta girl” note card via snail mail.
28. Speaking of mail, there are some fun stamps which will brighten any envelope. Elvis Presley? Harvest veggies? An array of frogs? 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment? The great outdoors? Take your pick.
27. My mail carrier always has a smile on her face. Definitely time to brighten her day with a gift card.
26. Remember a favorite local business: Are you social? Give them a high five online. Or tell a friend.
25. Take a look outside. I saw plenty of greens, blues (jays and the sky); even a hint of red – my favorite cardinal. Sunflower seeds + sunshine – a winning combo!
24. Repeat at night. The night constellations are a sight to behold. Try a mobile app such as SkyView to take it to a new level.
23. Problems sleeping? Put on a different sort of mask – one for your eyes. My daughters shared this with me: genius! And I’m grateful to share with you.
22. Are you a dreamer? Keep a bedside journal to remember an interesting dream, or an idea that comes to mind in the middle of the night. You’ll be thankful it was not forgotten by morning.
21. A good cup of coffee warms the hands and heart – I’ve intentionally selected mugs with a message for the day, every day, this year. A recent favorite: HOPE.
20. Or venture to your favorite local coffee shop, whether for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up. They’ll be grateful to see you, and you, them.
19. If you are up early enough, take in the sunrise – Baker Park is a favorite spot.
18. And who can forget the sheer beauty of a Naples sunset? Over the water and with beautiful clouds turning every shade of pink. The perfect time to reflect.
17. During 2020, have you started a new project, or honed your skills with a hobby? Give thanks for whatever sparked your newfound creativity.
16. Find a quote that is uplifting and inspiring. Share it.
15. The pandemic reminds us all that health is the real wealth. Did you continue or start a healthy habit this year? (My go-to is the “BeeTox” drink at Juicelation.)
14. The new year will soon be upon us. Envision a goal to embrace in 2021.
13. Commit to a random act of kindness on a weekly, or, better yet, daily basis.
12. Food pantries have reported an overwhelming uptick in need. Consider a donation (and not just for Thanksgiving, the need is year long) to honor a loved one. It’s easy to give and help many: harrychapinfoodbank.org has my vote. I’d love to hear other suggestions.
11. If it’s Wednesday, no complaints allowed! Seriously, pick a day for 24 hours of positivity.
10. Compliment yourself. Dig deep or scratch the surface. What is it about yourself that makes you special? Remember. Act on it.
9. Pick a comfort food and savor it. The spinach-mushroom lasagna at Wynn’s Market was our smash pandemic discovery. My other daughter preferred a simple chicken pot pie from Publix. And, my aunt chimed in with Fruit-Maple oatmeal – yes, from McDonalds! All delicious.
8. Celebrate a victory. It could be small: finishing your crossword puzzle. Or consequential, like making it through medical treatments this year. Applause!
7. Recall a memory that you hold dear.
6. And, think back to a favorite Thanksgiving tradition. Might it change? Yes – the only constant is change.
5. Have you read any good books this year? Perhaps pick up a book outside your favorite genre. Be open to an unexpectedly pleasant surprise.
4. Visit your local library. They miss you!
3. Think of a favorite trip you’ve taken. Remembering, and anticipating a trip, even a day trip, is a significant way to amplify good feelings.
2. Play your favorite song. Music is healing in every conceivable way.
1. OPEN CALL! Readers, please share your favorite way to express gratitude and open your heart. I’ll select one to receive a $25 gift card to a local establishment.
Send along your gratitude suggestions, or email Karen with your article ideas concerning Life in Naples (especially as to local charities and their activities): Napleskcc@gmail.com. Follow her on Instagram for more vignettes about Life in Naples: @naplesbythenumbers.