WebMD BlogsRelationships

Being Thankful Beyond Thanksgiving

Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistNovember 21, 2012
From the WebMD Archives

So much to do, so little time. You check off things on your to-do list (or, if you’re like me, your many lists) – and move on to the new issues at hand. While this approach to your day might help you efficiently accomplish your goals, an unanticipated consequence is that it can leave you forever staring at, and thinking about, all the things you have yet to do. And this can make you feel empty and overwhelmed. So, it’s an important practice to also build into your day a way to reflect on the successes and joys. Fortunately, Thanksgiving serves as a wonderful reminder to do this.

To help train yourself to appreciate – and be thankful for – the positive, make a daily effort to do three things:

Pay attention to the good stuff: It’s too easy to be governed by thinking, “Now that I’ve got this done, I need to…” It’s also too easy to not think about all the blessings in your life – you know, your job or loved ones or home or the free country you live in… (For instance, right now you might find yourself thinking about the things you don’t have or how what you do have is inadequate.)

Instead, consciously think about your positive qualities, accomplishments, and the blessings in your life. Challenge yourself to view life from a more positive perspective. If you tend to struggle with being shy or introverted, focus on how you are a loyal and devoted friend and how you are wonderfully creative or committed to a healthy lifestyle. At your job, you might notice how helpful you tend to be to others, or how you excel in certain areas.

Reflect on the good stuff: To become a naturally more appreciative person, you need to remember the things that feel good. So, think back over the past day, week, or month and replay those situations that made you happy or feel positive (e.g. proud, thankful).

You might even help your memory along by keeping a daily gratitude journal in which you briefly remind yourself of the good stuff in your life. If you keep it specific, you can repeat the same topics and still keep them fresh. For instance, you can address how your children made you happy by writing, “It made me feel good to see how sweetly the girls played together today.” Then the next day you might write, “I felt so loved and blessed when Suzie said she loved me and gave me a big hug this morning.”

Interpret experiences as part of the good stuff in life: If you tend to be a bit of an Eeyore and see the dark side of everything, then you would do yourself a favor by practicing a bit of positive thinking. It won’t help to flat out deny problems, but maintaining perspective can be extremely helpful. For instance, you will not be happy that the love of your life just dumped you. However, you can still appreciate that you have good friends who are there to support you; or that you have a career that you love. And, with a little time, you might even acknowledge to yourself that he or she wasn’t such a great catch after all.

By approaching Thanksgiving – and every day – with these three guidelines, you will find that you are more thankful. And this will make you – and the people around you – happier.


WebMD Blog
© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

More from the Relationships Blog

  • giving advice

    Think Twice Before You Give Advice

    If only we were as good at solving our own problems as we are at solving other people’s. But like so many great ideas, our solutions for others often become less perfect the more we learn about the problem ...

  • photo of couple arguing in bed

    How to Keep Your Emotions From Overwhelming You

    If you’re someone who gets emotionally overwhelmed, relationship conflict can be difficult to manage. When you get upset with your partner, you don’t handle it well. You are too upset to think clearly. So you ...

View all posts on Relationships

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More