Friday, November 11, 2016

Thankful Heart: How to Put the Giving into Thanksgiving

Thankful Heart: How to Put the Giving into Thanksgiving
By: Kira M. Newman

What would a generosity-infused Thanksgiving look like? Here are some suggestions:

1. Perform acts of Thanksgiving kindness
On our annual day of gratitude, there are ample opportunities for giving. You might think of friends who have no family to visit, and invite them to join your celebrations. You might donate your leftovers to those who would desperately appreciate them (rather than hearing "Turkey again?" from your long-suffering family). Or maybe just bake your husband's favorite pumpkin pie for dessert.
Incidentally, kindness is already a small part of our Thanksgiving rituals in the ceremonial presidential pardoning of a turkey. If turkeys could communicate with us, we would most certainly hear some genuine and spontaneous clucks of gratitude!

2. Encourage kindness in kids now-and throughout the year
Performing acts of Thanksgiving kindness yourself-in other words, modeling kind behavior-is one of four research-backed ways to encourage kindness in kids.

Raising kind kids also means being careful with the way you praise and criticize them. Praising their character ("You're such a helpful friend") but criticizing their actions ("That wasn't a very considerate thing to do") will help kids see themselves as good and capable of improvement. Counter intuitively, offering kids material rewards for kind behavior may backfire because they become motivated by the rewards, not the warm glow of kindness itself.  

This approach coincides with the gentle way sociologist Christine Carter believes parents can inspire gratitude in their children. She writes, "We are simply trying to elicit a positive emotion-feelings of appreciation-just like we might try to elicit a smile from a baby. This means not insisting kids feel grateful, and certainly not telling them what they should feel grateful for; instead, it's about creating an environment and situation where the feelings can naturally arise." 
3. Donate to the right charities (for you)
When Giving Tuesday rolls around, you'll surely be bombarded with requests for donations. The charity you choose could have an impact on how you feel afterward-and whether you decide to donate next year.

Research suggests that the most effective giving is founded on a human connection, so make sure to do your research and find a platform (such as that provides lots of detail on the people you'll be helping. Favor charities where you can see the impact of your giving; that means knowing what your money will be used for-for example, new classroom supplies or a cooking stove-and actually being able to communicate with recipients. Finally, donate because you choose to, not because you feel pressured to, and everyone will be better off.

It takes a while to develop a deep sense of gratefulness, a profound appreciation for all the positives that come our way, a belief that everything in life is a gift. In a perfect world, we would all be this grateful-and at Thanksgiving, we could sit down and the thankfulness would flow forth genuinely and profusely. But many of us aren't there yet, and focusing on generosity can be a different way to increase gratitude in the world this Thanksgiving.

In other words, emphasize the giving, and the thanks will follow.

Work Cited:

Newman, K. M. (2015, November 24). How to Put the Giving into Thanksgiving.

Retrieved August 01, 2016.