No Pressure Holidays: How Gratitude Can Help in Real Ways – YourTango

Pressure is part of the package of the holidays – even if it’s pressure to create happiness and connection. But pressure can push us quickly out of our comfort zone and away from the very feelings we aim to cultivate. Instead of feeling calm and joyful, we can feel irritable, tired, and foggy. Curious how no pressure gratitude can help this holiday season? The secret is to find authentic feelings of gratefulness, even if only once a week.

Do you sometimes feel under pressure to feel grateful? With Thanksgiving around the corner, gratitude is front and center. Yet, the positivity of gratitude might be hard to come by with so much to do around the holidays, and so many mixed emotions intertwined. What are the reasons to cultivate gratitude, and what are the possible drawbacks toward trying to muster gratitude when it just doesn’t feel right? Below I discuss the ins and outs of gratitude, especially in light of the holiday season.

The Pros

First and foremost, the data on gratitude and its positive effects on happiness and relationships just keeps pouring in. Gratitude figures prominently as one of the key ways we can boost our happiness and improve our satisfaction in relationships. It’s even proven to be better for your health: Gratitude lower stress levels, heightens immunity, and is associated with better self-care, such as good nutrition or routine exercise. Gratitude can even be an antidote to anger and frustration, and those who know this – either intuitively, or via training – will often implement an “attitude of gratitude” in order to maintain emotional and mental balance with an overall positive approach.

The most effective practice of gratitude has to do with focusing on aspects of your life for which you truly feel grateful. Even in the most dire of circumstances, there is space for gratitude, but it’s not quite what you think. The things we’re thankful for can be small or large, but they need to be authentic, varied, and somewhat infrequent. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a prominent gratitude researcher, has found that people who feel gratitude once a week are happier than the people who feel and express gratitude daily.  Gratitude, like much in life, is more effective when its quality trumps its quantity…


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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD