Serve a Healthy Helping of Thanks with your Turkey This Year!

Giving Thanks by Dr. Lynn K. Jones Life Coach

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

When you are helping yourself to the turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, don’t forget the thanks this year.  It turns out that the opportunity to be thankful may be the healthiest part of your meal.  In Thanks!  How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, psychologist Robert Emmons describes how the benefits of expressing gratitude range from better physical health, especially improved cardiovascular health, to improved mental alertness.  People who express gratitude are more likely to be emotionally supportive of others, too.

Giving Thanks by Dr. Lynn K. Jones Life CoachYou might not like your family sweet potato recipe, but there is nothing not to like about gratitude.

“Gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research” says Emmons.  Expressing gratitude in your daily life might even have a protective effect on staving off certain forms of psychological disorders.  Emmons’ research suggests that by making a habit of focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life you cultivate higher levels of psychological well-being and, it turns out, a lower risk of certain forms of psychopathology.

And when the day is over and the last dish is put away… make a commitment to keep on practicing thankfulness.  Emmons says that giving gratitude is an opportunity to make Thanksgiving a year-long health benefit, not just a focus for one day!

Here are some ways you can begin integrating a thankfulness practice into your life:

  1. Start small.  Pick one thing each day and make a gratitude gift.  It doesn’t have to be something big—thank someone for a kind word, for their assistance on something, for being there in the past for you.  You’ll both feel great.
  2. Keep it simple. Sometimes we don’t send a thank you note because it seems like too big a deal.  Buy some nice cards so that you can easily send out a simple note when you think of it.  And it doesn’t have to go out by snail mail either, tweet or post on face book your thank you and your appreciation will exponentially grow.
  3. Keep a What Went Well Journal. Emmons found that people who keep a gratitude journal experience the positive health benefits from gratitude more than others.   Seligman has developed the What Went Well exercise.  Read about the WWW exercise in another blog post—it is fun and easy to do.
  4. Notice nature.  We take a lot for granted that is beautiful in our natural surroundings.  Noticing beauty in your surroundings is a gratitude generator.  Just take a moment to appreciate that plant that started to bloom or the gentle breeze of morning.
  5. Remember gratitude when times are rough.  Nothing good or beautiful in your life right now?  Don’t give up on practicing gratitude—it’s a super negativity neutralizer.

If you feel that you are not fully achieving what you value in your life to have a meaningful and happy life, please call me for a free complimentary session at 805.448.7681 or schedule a session using my on-line calendar.



P.S.  Thanks in advance to anyone who chooses to add their comments to the discussion or wishes to forward the blog link.  I really DO appreciate it! (Small and simple)

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US.   Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry.  She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves.  An MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment.


  1. Rhonda Reagh on November 21, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Thanks Lynn! What a great reminder going into this hectic holiday season. It is the little things that make it all worthwhile, afterall. I think I will use this in my coaching sessions this week.

    • Executive Coach on November 21, 2011 at 1:11 am

      Thanks for commenting, Rhonda! All the best to you and your clients during this holiday season!

  2. Delia@eosgrafx on November 21, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Thanks for this post, Lynn! A simple thanks and a smile go such a long way!

    • Executive Coach on November 21, 2011 at 1:11 am

      So true! Back at ya with a smile and a thanks!

  3. anon on November 21, 2011 at 2:04 am

    An odie but a goodie:

    Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.

    Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC),

    • Executive Coach on November 21, 2011 at 2:15 am

      Thanks! That is a keeper! 🙂

    • Patricia on November 21, 2011 at 3:05 am

      I love this quote. Why? Because if true, that means that without gratitude we have nothing else–or at least nothing of virtue. I try to be grateful daily–I occasionally look back on hard times I’ve emerged out of and am thankful to be better today. Little things many of us take for granted, so many don’t have. I try to remember that as cliche as it sounds…it’s true! Even getting an education I think the statistics show that 70% of people don’t have a college degree…so even getting a four year degree gives me more than many have (assuming we all want an education ;).

      • Executive Coach on November 21, 2011 at 5:48 am

        You are so right–we all take a lot for granted. I am impressed that you make a daily practice of being grateful. It always good to look and see where we have come from. Without doing that we have the misleading impression that we aren’t making any progress. Thanks for commenting!

  4. AO on December 9, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Well, it is almost Christmas. I do have to say that my thanks-giving was all about gratitude and creating a gratitude list.

    Now as the end of this year approaches, I am doing the “WWW” exercise. What When Well this year?

    • Executive Coach on December 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      Fabulous idea, AO!! Don’t forget when you identify something that went well, to also note: “what did you do to make it go well?”

  5. Keisha Lowe on January 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Although this blog was geared towards the recent Thanksgiving Holiday celebrated, your suggestions are certainly great ways for individuals to begin 2012. Actually, I took the time this morning to write in my journal and to reflect on what I was grateful for in 2011. I believe that the time I took to reflect on what I was grateful for in 2011 will help to encourage positivity in 2012. Also, at the end of each day, I like to take time out to think about what event, action, person, or occurrence was the “rose” of my day. On the other hand, I think about if I had an event, action, person, or occurrence that was the “thorn” of my day and lessons that I can learn from it. Overall, I agree that it is so important for people to take the time to be still and to reflect on what makes them appreciative.

    • Executive Coach on January 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      I love the idea of of focusing on the rose of the day, not the thorns! Thanks for sharing Keisha. Here’s to many roses in 2012 and taking time to smell them along the way. 🙂

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