If you attend worship, the words "give with a grateful heart" most likely are taught. One congregation locally starts clapping when the offering is collected to emphasize to give freely and with great gratitude.

The same thing is real for the philanthropist. They find no gratification when the public solicitors treat them like an ATM. Giving should be a celebration of thanksgiving to help a cause one supports.

Whether their gift is of time, talent or money, an attitude of gratitude benefits both parties. Build the church or save the seals; some research has shown cheerful givers receive personal health benefits. 

When volunteers give their time or talent, researchers found blood pressure lowers, and stress levels decrease, social connections build and overall happiness improves. 

Giving of yourself gives one a sense of purpose. When you walk by a bell ringer at Christmas and throw in some coins in the red bucket, the giver feels like they are part of a bigger purpose. Writing a check to your favorite local charity induces a sense of community.

Volunteering widens your network of friendships and connections within the community. Camaraderie will enhance the health benefits and form bonds for a lifetime.

Look back to when you volunteered, like helping to clean up after a tornado or ice storm or serving the concession stand with the booster club. The people you helped and worked with will come to mind. The feel-good emotions will erupt again. 

A servant leader giving with a happy heart benefits all.

Practicing gratitude for the depressed or anyone who finds it hard to be grateful can exercise the habit. The following are three practical steps to learning how to be thankful.

Gratitude journal

Counselors will have a patient start a journal and write down emotions and feelings about their issues. To develop gratitude, scribble down three things that bring you happiness daily. Over time the practice will become a habit. 

Gratitude jar

Similar to the journal, write down one thing you are thankful for each day, preferably at the same time to form a habit. 

Use the jar on a gloomy day when you can’t come up with anything positive. Reminders will often spur gratefulness and lift the spirit.

Next year, pour the papers on a large platter or a bowl for a centerpiece during Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving traditions

It's never too late to start a new tradition. For instance, purchase a tablecloth and fabric markers. Instruct your guests to write down what they are most thankful for this year and sign with a date. Use the tablecloth year after year.

More ideas include going around the table and telling others about a volunteer activity from the year or things you are grateful for this year. 

A pass-on book creates a history of your family. Start a journal and pass around your table with the same idea as the tablecloth — pass it on to everyone to write a sentence or essay. Even the little lives can make a scribble. Years down the road, when looking back, great memories will abound.

Thanksgiving is just a week away. This year, talk with the family about giving back to the community. Gratitude attitudes can do great things.

Joy Beamer is the current president of the Dallas County Community Foundation. Reach her at joyb@buffaloreflex.com or (417) 733-2576.

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