A season of giving

Gratitude has shown to improve health and well-being


Photo Courtesy of Canva

Holly McDonald, Editor in Chief

As the holiday season approaches, feeling of gratitude and compassion fill our hearts. Although Thanksgiving puts a strong emphasis on showing gratitude, much research has shown that people who are consistently thankful year-round, are more optimistic and have better health. 

In a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, participants were split into three groups, each group having a separate task. The fist group was tasked to write things they were grateful for at the end of each week, the second group was to write about the things that irritated them, and the third group had to write about events that affected them positively or negatively. 

Ten weeks later, the study showed that the first group, who had written about what they were grateful for, not only had felt more optimistic about life, but also exercised more and had less trips to the doctor compared to the group who focused on the things that irritated them.

In another study, the effects of gratitude in the work place was investigated to see how gratitude could improve productivity.

In this study, two groups were split up and had to contact alumni from a college for donations. One group worked the way they normally would, while the other got a pep talk from a director who expressed she was grateful for their efforts. In the end of the study, the second group who received the gratitude talk was able to make 50 percent more fundraising calls compared to the first group. 

Gratitude for our actions can fill us with the desire to do more. When one expresses gratitude towards us, we may feel compelled to pass it forward.

“When someone expresses appreciation for my actions I feel loved and honored,” English teacher Mrs. Stephanie Miller said. “I want to express more kindness and care towards that individual.”

Sharing gratitude towards ourselves is just as important as sharing gratitude with others. Without a happy and healthy mind, we can’t move forward before reflecting upon our own state of well-being. 

“I try to tell people how much I appreciate them as often as I can,” history teacher Mrs. Christina Bettes said. “People go through so many challenges and difficult times, kindness can really go a long way in helping others. When my students leave class I’ll often say ‘be kind to others! And to yourselves!’ which I know sounds corny but we (adults included) are not always as kind to ourselves as we should be.” 

There are many keys to success in life, but gratitude belongs on that list. In relationships, expressing gratitude can help the partner or friend feel noticed and appreciated.

“Showing appreciation towards others is one of the biggest keys to making any relationship awesome,” Mrs. Miller said. “And paying attention to all of the blessings I am surrounded with continues to bring a smile to my face.”

It’s hard to be thankful when nothing in our lives seems to be going right. In the moments of darkness, it’s gratitude that can bring us joy again.

“Are there days it’s harder to reflect and shift my mindset when I’m overwhelmed or feeling defeated? Absolutely,” Mrs. Bettes said. “But it does help to pause and focus on what I’m grateful for in my life.”

We can all use the gifts of kindness and gratitude to create a happier and friendlier environment in this world.

“I know how valuable gratitude is in raising my level of well-being, energy, health, and vitality,” Mrs. Miller said. “It also attracts so many more positive, happy moments in my day because it’s the energy I’m emanating. We all have the power of perception and we have the ability to perceive many things in a positive light.”


List of things you can do to be more grateful:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal, or write down things that you are thankful for on a regular basis
    1. This activity helps you to see the good, even on bad days. It works to help you become conscious of the good moments whether they’re big or small 
  2. Write a handwritten letter to someone you are thankful for
    1. If you’re not good with verbally expressing gratitude, writing it out is another way to show someone you are thankful for them. 
  3. Switch up your ‘thank you’s’ 
    1. Thank you is a common phrase used on a daily basis. Sometimes saying another phrase such as “I appreciate you” or “It means a lot to me” expresses the same thankfulness but might have a different impact
  4. Show yourself some love
    1. Sometimes we can’t help others when we aren’t in the right headspace ourselves. Instead of negative self-talk such as “i can’t do this”, work on putting a positive spin to say “I am working on this”.