The holidays are a time for giving thanks, exchanging gifts, and celebrating together. It turns out, though, that happy people are able to extend generosity and gratitude more easily no matter what. It doesn't matter if it’s a holiday or any other day of the year. We can learn from those who are generous and grateful in order to feel happier too, even during the stressful holidays!
The Origins of Gratitude
There is research to suggests that gratitude is not simply being nice. It is actually hard-wired into us as a species. It’s possible that gratitude was one way that early humans were able to create bonds with each other. This would be helpful for survival. There’s evidence, too, that some humans are more prone to gratitude than others. Scientists have been able to isolate a gene, identified as CD38, that is connected to gratefulness. Gratitude is actually part of our DNA!
Research on Happiness and Gratitude
Researchers have conducted numerous studies on the connection between happiness and gratitude. Their findings show:
- People who were focused on attaining possessions had less life satisfaction and a more negative outlook than those who were not materialistic.
- Couples with a partner who expressed their gratitude reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction than those who didn’t express gratitude.
- If you feel more grateful, you have a lower inclination towards materialism.
- People who kept a gratitude journal report being happier 25% more than those who don’t.
Even simply saying thank-you can make a big difference in happiness and gratitude!
Gratitude and Your Health
Feeling grateful doesn’t just make you feel happier. It can actually have a positive impact on your physical health. For instance:
- When we are happier we are less stressed.
- Grateful people also get a better night’s sleep.
- People who are grateful report fewer body aches and pain.
- Grateful people exercise more and take care of their health.
- Gratitude builds emotional resiliency. This is helpful especially for those who have experienced or witness traumatic events.
Feeling grateful means more than just being nice, it’s an outlook on life. One that can mean a lot for your health and the quality of your life.
Generosity and Gratitude During the Holidays
Even if you’re not the most grateful person, the holiday season is a great time to put this on your to-do list. Some ideas include:
- Keeping a gratitude journal where you record what you’re grateful for each day.
- Showing your loved ones that you care by doing something nice.
- Volunteering in your community during the holidays, such as at a food bank, homeless shelter, or similar organization.
- Agreeing, as a family, to substitute one gift you would have exchanged with each other for a financial gift in their name to a charitable group or non-profit.
- Sorting through clothes and possessions for donations to groups such as Goodwill.
- Choosing to turn off electronic devices to spend time together as a family.
One other thing you can do during the holidays? Make resolutions for the coming year.
How can you be more generous, grateful, and less materialistic?
People who show generosity and gratitude during the holiday season are already more prone to do so throughout the year. They may even be genetically predisposed to them. However, even if you don’t think you are the most grateful person naturally, there’s no time like the present to start! You can take some simple steps during the holidays to express your gratitude, show that you care, and create stronger bonds with your family and community. End the old year more connected with others and begin the new one feeling happier and more satisfied too!