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The ‘Thankful Thinking’ Game

Traci Taylor

For as long as I can remember, there’s a game that my family has played that my Mom made up called ‘thankful thinking.’

The way ‘thankful thinking’ works is that we start with the letter “a” and go in a circle each taking a letter of the alphabet and say what we’re thankful for. And it has to be something legit. If someone were to get the letter “t” and say they’re thankful for say…toenails, my mom would ask them to justify their thankfulness and if they couldn’t, they’d have to come up with something new.

I can’t even tell you how many times ‘thankful thinking’ has been played in my parent’s car. Instead of yelling at us kids when we;d get ornery on car rides, Mom would make us play thankful thinking. Of course, we’d grumble and resist and complain, but we’d go along with it and before we knew it, we’d go from grumpy little trolls to laughing kids.

Everybody knows that on Thanksgiving, you’re supposed to take a moment and be thankful for what you have, but the people at USA Today say we should be doing that every day.

You probably know that being thankful can have a positive effect on your emotions, but psychologists didn’t really study it until recently and they’ve found that it might be one of our most powerful emotions.

A psychology professor named Robert Emmons studied the effects of gratitude, and he says grateful people are more alert, more engaged, more enthusiastic, and feel more connected to other people. As a matter of fact, in several studies, he found that about 75% of people from all age groups scored higher in happiness tests if they regularly counted their blessings. And some even slept better.

Oh, and appreciating what you have can reduce stress too. Emmons says grateful people are quote, “less likely to experience envy, anger, resentment, regret, and other unpleasant states that produce stress.”

The only catch is, you have to GENUINELY be thankful to see the effects. (Looks like my mom was on to something!) For example, writing a quick thank-you note, or saying grace at dinner can make you a happier person, but only if what you say comes from the heart.

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