Thankful Heart: 8 Simple Ways to Happiness

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Thanksgiving is nearly here. Whether you’re having all the fixings with family on Thursday or grabbing a turkey sandwich from the road, we hope you’re filled with happiness and a thankful heart.

With all the stress and trauma that comes with first responder life, it’s easy to lose that thankful feeling. We understand, but we’re grateful for many things and we’d like to share that.

First of all, you’re here! You’re alive and moving, and we’re grateful for that. What’s more, you’re reading this! We’re so grateful for your support. We want you to share in some happiness too. So, we have a list of simple ways to help make your holiday, and every day, a little happier. After all, a happy heart is a thankful heart.


The world offers a myriad of images of happiness, but it truly starts from inside. If we’re inside a house and looking up the chimney, the outside world looks dark. Similarly, if we try to view the world through the bushes, we may not see clearly. The point is perspective. When we choose the perspective that helps us see best, we can enjoy the view, see more clearly, and make better decisions. Our perspective fuels our view and our view feeds our happiness. So, let’s find ways to set our hearts right and feed that happiness.

Let’s get right to it.

8 Simple Ways to Happiness

No matter where or who you serve in first responder life, you can find a way to apply each of these ways to your personal and professional life. See which might resonate with you best and start there.

Know Your Road

Some have had it harder than others. They’ve come through more trauma personally than most, but they’re still here. If that’s you, look at where you’ve been. You’ve survived and learned and grown. Be grateful for all the help you’ve had and all you’ve accomplished. Look ahead at the way forward and find the path to reach your goals with all you’ve attained.

Maybe you’ve done well in the past and you’re difficult road is now. You are equipped with more than you realize. What are you capable of? Who or what are your resources? Dig deep and find the path through the thicket. So many support you, even if you can’t feel it now. As always, reach out if you need guidance or support. Just keep moving forward. You’ve got this.

Rest & Rejuvenation

We didn’t know how important time-outs were as kids. Let’s not lose them. We all need a time-out once in a while. Make sure you’re giving yourself rest where and when you can. If only for a moment, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. What helps you unwind? Got a favorite food? Indulge for a moment and rest. Like the outdoors? Go for a walk. Into puzzles? Pull one out and lose yourself in it for a bit. Take this little moment of happiness and be thankful for it. You’ll feel better and be ready to continue with your day.

Share the Joy

Happiness works best when shared with others, and that goes both ways.

We can share our joy with others by celebrating. A new baby, a new job, an engagement…People love joining in celebration. Allow others to hear about your news and be happy with you.

Likewise, celebrate with your friends, family, and coworkers when they have good news. It’s not meant to belittle your troubles but it lightens your heart to share in your loved ones’ happiness. Be happy and know good things are happening in their lives.

Share the Sadness

This seems counterintuitive for this topic, but—yes—share the sadness too, or anger, or confusion, or whatever is being felt.

When we share all our hearts with those we love, we not only lighten the burden of hard feelings or troubling times, but we find gratitude in fellowship. Knowing we have others caring for us as we care for them lightens our hearts and makes difficult times easier to bear. We find hope in our friends and, therefore, happiness.

Show Appreciation

Let’s work that perspective a bit more, shall we? When was the last time you sent a Thank You text? How about a physical note of thanks? We’re so electronic these days that we forget the power of holding a note in your hand. It’s powerful, and you have the power to make someone feel amazing. Isn’t that great?

When we’re thankful for others and tell them so, we perpetuate that attitude of gratitude and spread happiness. It doesn’t have to be anything big.

Thanks for covering my lunch. I’ll get you back sometime.

Thanks for the ride. I really appreciate it.

Thanks for covering that shift. You made my day much easier. I appreciate having you here.

Little thanks have a big effect on one’s heart—both yours and the person you thank!

Cleaning & Donating

This doesn’t need to wait for the holidays. You know the condition of your local towns and cities. People are in need everywhere and all year long.

If you can find time to clean out a closet, a room, or an area, not only will you feel good for doing it, but you’ll also feel good for donating those items. You might even realize you have more than you thought and be grateful you’re able to share it with others. It’s a two-fer in the feels.

Serving Others

Now, don’t think we forgot who you are. You serve all the time, but this is different.

Yes, you can hop off the shift and head to the local soup kitchen to dish out a few meals, but that’s not the only way we can voluntarily serve others. You might have a neighbor with physical limitations and a yard full of leaves. Maybe that person just needs the trash to go out.

Want to feel grateful and appreciated quickly, help an individual with something simple off the clock. You won’t just feel thankful for the ability to help, but you’ll start to feel thankful for the opportunity to help. After all, you started this gig because you have a servant’s heart. Be a servant outside of trauma and someone’s worst day. Imagine simple ways of serving with less stress. The simple things sometimes matter most.


Lastly, though there are more ideas here, let’s lighten the mood. Laughter has a physical effect on us by releasing endorphins which affects how we process thoughts, feelings, pain, and even healing. By laughing, and in a genuinely mirthful way, we promote good brain health and find moments of happiness that can build up.

We’re grateful for moments of laughter with our loved ones. Those are joyful times! We want to remember them so we can smile when we look at or think of those times. Try to make as many of those moments as possible. And when we need a good laugh but are alone, we can read or watch something funny or call someone up.

A Thankful Heart

All of us here at FRC are grateful for our first responders and their service. We love you all and wish you all the best in joy and gratitude. We have a lot to be thankful for and we hope you do too. That attitude of gratitude paves the way to a more joyful perspective. After all, a thankful heart is a happy heart.