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Don’t Ask “What Are You Thankful For?” Try This Instead



Whether or not you are having fun with a virtual holiday this yr or can be having fun with your loved ones and associates in particular person, almost each Thanksgiving has this custom in widespread: saying what you might be grateful for. Like so many on the market, I like the intent of this practice. Gratefulness is necessary. It has been confirmed to extend happiness and make us extra resilient to emphasize. 

Nonetheless, I like to recommend a reframe of the query to assist us all have a happier, extra optimistic vacation season (and past).

Why Change The Query?

What number of occasions have you ever sat across the desk and had everybody say, “Household” or “Well being” one after one other for what they’re grateful for this yr? Whether or not it’s our herding instincts making us really feel like we now have to say the identical factor as everybody else or we’re in any other case simply going by way of the motions, this reveals that our responses have turn into a behavior.

Your unconscious mind loves predictability. Whereas a visitor on The Brainy Enterprise podcast, Professor Wendy Wooden defined how 95 percent of decisions are made out of habit. Once you ask the identical query yr after yr, the mind will develop extra of an automated response. The consequence is you do not actually internalize the gratefulness the query is meant to set off. 

How are you aware if one thing is a behavior? As Dr. Wooden defined to me in our interview, everytime you may be considering of one thing else while you’re doing a activity it’s a behavior. If you are answering the “What are you grateful for?” query, are you serious about watching the sport later or which sort of pie you wish to strive first? 

If that’s the case, you might be in habit-land.

Why Do We Ask This?

Fortunately, asking a different question can help you get to a different result. With a purpose to discover the most effective new query to ask, you wish to begin by contemplating why we ask this in any respect. Sure, it’s about reflection and contemplating what has gone effectively up to now yr, however why? What’s the aim? 

In my thoughts, the basis of this practice is to encourage us to be extra grateful and beneficiant on the holidays and ideally all year long. Clearly, the stagnant query is not doing the job anymore. 

A New Query: What Can I Do To Make Others Grateful?

As an alternative of reflecting on what has already occurred and going with the motions, I like to recommend a proactive query. By as a substitute asking, “What can I do to make others grateful?” (or some variation of this) you want to the longer term and giving to these round you. 

  • enhance moods
  • scale back stress and nervousness
  • have a optimistic results on bodily well being
  • assist us reside longer

And, past advantages for ourselves, asking this query could encourage us to take that motion and assist another person. 

Actually take into consideration that query; What is going to you do to make others grateful? (Including the motion of “will” as a substitute of one thing like “might” is intentional right here because it makes it extra seemingly you’ll do one thing as a substitute of simply serious about it.) 

This may very well be enterprise associated:

  • Who are you able to be a mentor for? 
  • Are you able to say one thing good a few coworker or worker to their boss?
  • What are you able to do to make your prospects grateful?

  • What consideration are you able to present to your children that may make them grateful?
  • Is there an exercise your important different would like to do, however you might have been laying aside?
  • What associates or family members could be delighted to obtain a bodily card from you within the mail?

Think about the optimistic ripples if all of us ask this higher, extra proactive query this vacation season (or any time of yr). To kick issues off, I wish to ask that very same query yet one more time: What is going to you do to make others grateful this week?

The opinions expressed right here by Inc.com columnists are their very own, not these of Inc.com.



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