Thanksgiving… it’s not just about pilgrims and pie, although I do happen to know a real life pilgrim who also concocts incredible baked goods, explores the world, and is gloriously experienced in the art of gratitude. And she goes by the name of Dr. Therese Mascardo.
Dr. Therese, a modern pilgrim if you will, is a living model of grace, generosity, and gratitude. I’m not kidding, she is the kind of “nice” that is both magnetic as well as shocking. If we lived in a fairy forest, Therese would be the beloved princess for whom the wildlife big and small forget their shyness or instinctual aggression. The larks would fishtail braid her hair and the flowers would unfurl their petals in unison to bask in the warmth of her radiant soul.
So then, who better to share a little wisdom about giving thanks than this purple-haired pilgrim that I’m so blessed to call my friend?
3 Easy Tips to Kickstart Your Gratitude
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
Perhaps it is because after all these years it’s still a holiday that is mostly focused on people getting together to be thankful, and less so about just buying stuff.
Or maybe it’s just because I’m a reallllllly big fan of mashed potatoes and stuffing (the indisputable King and Queen of side dishes, in my humble opinion).
Either way, I love Thanksgiving because at its core it is about mindfully practicing something that has the power to transform lives in a seemingly magical way: gratitude. And the truth is, people that are real bosses at life are people that know how to flex their gratitude muscle, and do so often.
For less than the price of a stick of gum (and definitely less than the price of a self-help book) people who choose to practice gratitude end up being happier and healthier human beings.
As a psychologist and a pastor, I have seen gratitude move mountains—both within people, and between people. Gratitude transforms negative, unhappy people into content and gracious people. Through practicing gratefulness, people who once saw a world of scarcity have had their eyes changed to see abundance. When we express appreciation to each other, we form deeper, more meaningful connections to each other as well. The best part about all this goodness? It’s free. For less than the price of a stick of gum (and definitely less than the price of a self-help book) people who choose to practice gratitude end up being happier and healthier human beings—and the world is a better place because of it.
So, in honor of the best holiday (IMHO), here are 3 foolproof ways to flex your gratitude muscle this Thanksgiving:
. . .
1. Write it down.
Gratitude journals (journals geared specifically to noting what you are grateful for) are a healing practice I suggest often to my therapy clients. Why? Because they actually work at making people happier and healthier. This phenomenon is scientifically backed by research.
To get started, just pick a time daily to write down five things you are grateful for, trying to always write down something different. Entries can be as simple or elaborate as you like, such as “I’m grateful for hot water” or “I’m grateful that I’ve been cancer-free for 2 years.” Try it for a week and see how you feel.
In ways big and small, practice putting others before yourself. You can volunteer at a local non-profit that serves the poor, tutor kids at an afterschool program, or give your time to a local church or synagogue. There is no better way to appreciate what you have than when you’re using it to better the lives of others. It’s also an important reminder of a world that’s bigger than our own immediate needs.
No matter how much or how little we have, helping another human being is always possible. Through being kind, giving a smile, and sharing our talents, we all have the ability to serve. The bonus is that serving others also make us feel good—which is even more reason to do so often.
Praise is all about owning the impact of your words and using them to actively express gratitude. Your words are a powerful tool that shapes your world, and the world of others. In other words, positive words make a positive world. A simple “thank you” may be all it takes to melt away the dark clouds of another person’s bad day. Giving words of encouragement, or writing a letter to someone to say “thanks” brings life to others, and may impact them in ways far deeper than we even realize.
Try and go out of your way to thank someone who may not normally get thanked, and be specific. For example, instead of saying “Thank you Donna,” say “Donna, that was one of the most beautiful spreadsheets I’ve ever seen. It was so organized and well thought out. I don’t know how you do it, but I could never do it like you and I am so grateful for you!”
If you are a person of faith, prayer is another powerful way to express gratitude for your blessings. Studies also show that people who pray live longer and are healthier. Some studies even demonstrate that people who pray have less anxiety, lower blood pressure, and recover from illness better!
My hope is that by choosing to practice gratitude in these ways, and hopefully in many other ways as well, your life will feel even more rewarding and fulfilling, making you even more of a boss at life than you were before.
Happy Thanksgiving, #BossLadies. And, thank you.
A little more about Dr. Therese Mascardo…
Dr. Therese is a people lover, speaker, and licensed psychologist. She is also a pastor at MOSAIC in Los Angeles, which was named one of the most influential and innovative churches in America. You might recognize her as a host of MOSAIC’s weekly livestream broadcast.
Dr. Therese believes that love is the best medicine for pretty much everything, and that life should be lived with lots of “ands.”
She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley as an Alumni Scholar and double majored in Psychology and Mass Communications. Dr. Therese earned her Master of Arts and Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degrees with a scholarship at The California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles (APA accredited).
In her Beverly Hills and Orange County private practices, she specializes in connecting with people who are dealing with depression, anxiety, life transitions, grief and loss, and questions about faith.