The Benefits of Being Thankful

November 25, 2014

It started a few weeks ago. Every day a few more catalogs arrive, each one enticing me to overspend my holiday budget. Even worse for me, when I open my favorite online newspaper I see links to hundreds if not thousands of recipes for holiday meals and treats. For some of us, the invitation to have one more drink at a party because we’re celebrating is the temptation. It’s the holidays and the temptation to overindulge every appetite is strong among us.

Our usual strategies and muscles for self control and using willpower can become fatigued with overuse at this time of year. Thankfully, we can now add gratitude to our surviving and thriving through the holidays toolkit. Recent research tells us that gratitude increases our ability to have the patience to forgo short term rewards for long term benefits. The research specifically was aimed at spending habits but the authors imply that the same principle could apply to making decisions about other healthy habits. The great thing about this is that it’s a lot easier to add gratitude than it is to strengthen the self control muscle. When we have both strategies working for us it can only be a benefit.

It’s time to unearth that gratitude journal from under the pile on your bedside table and move through the holiday season with more ease.

Wanda Sevey, MDiv, LMFT, is a licensed couples and family therapist in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  In addition to working with couples in counseling, she has been involved in couples education for 15 years.