Many senior women tend to feel a little sad at this time of year as the holidays approach. They might feel disconnected or far from their families, either because of location or because loved ones have passed away.

In addition, in light of growing health concerns, loss of loved ones, and career shifts, it’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking negative thoughts, which eventually can take a toll on one’s well-being.

As an alternative, this might be a good time to focus on all the positives in your life and what you have to be grateful for.

Why Be Grateful?

Research reported in the Journal of Happiness Studies has shown that forgiveness and gratitude have a positive effect on well-being. More specific studies show that those who are most grateful are also less prone to depression and tend to be happier overall.

There are a number of things you can do to practice gratitude. Expressing thanks fosters appreciation of, and perspective on, your life while positively affecting your physical, psychological, and emotional health.

It also may offer opportunities for growth and transformation. Counting your blessings is one way to do so, but when it comes to thanking others, expressions of gratitude can be performed in person or in writing.

Practicing Gratitude by Yourself

While you might not be an avid journal keeper at present, you might consider this practice, as it can shine a light on the goodness in your life. Research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies has shown that gratitude journaling for seniors is one of the most effective ways to express thanks.

In addition to saying thank you when you’re face-to-face with others, it’s also a good idea to send thank-you notes to those who have been kind to you. This is also an excellent way of nurturing ongoing relationships.

Writing in a gratitude journal offers an opportunity to be mindful and alert about what you’re thankful for and about those things you might otherwise take for granted.

The exercise of gratitude journaling gives you a chance to slow down and pay attention to all the good in your life. Writing also helps you organize your thoughts and can facilitate transformation.

The best way to start gratitude journaling is to find some quiet moments, either in the morning, or in the evening before you retire to bed. As with most types of journaling, there are no set rules. But here are some ideas on lists you might wish to make in your journal:

  • People you’re grateful for;
  • Events or experiences you’re grateful for;
  • Material things you’re grateful for – items you wouldn’t want to give up;
  • Books that greatly influenced your life;
  • Trips or journeys you took that impacted you in a positive way;
  • Skills and talents that you possess that you’re thankful for.

Practicing Gratitude with Others

If you’re having a Thanksgiving dinner, whether with your family or with friends or colleagues, perhaps suggest that everyone shut off their cell phones as a way of showing respect and appreciation for all those who are present.

If you have out-of-town guests, ask them if they wish to join you in your workout routine, which might include going to the gym, hiking, swimming, playing tennis, and so on, as a way to express gratitude for your health and well-being.

But most importantly, no matter what you’re doing or whom you’re with, try to maintain and cultivate an attitude of gratitude – not just on Thanksgiving, but all year long.

If you keep a gratitude journal, what would you write for today’s entry? How does practicing gratitude help you? Have you noticed any patterns in your expressions of gratitude? Please share in the comments below.

*Note: For those who love to read poetry, you can look up “Messenger,” a wonderful gratitude poem by Mary Oliver from her first collection of poetry, Thirst.

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