Giving Thanks Increases Happiness, Even During Divorce
by Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III
This week most Americans spend time with their families, friends and loved ones giving
thanks. For those who are going through a divorce or whose marriages are on the brink, the
holidays can be especially difficult and often emotionally overwhelming. As impossible as it
may seem, however, Thanksgiving may be something of a blessing in disguise.
A very important segment of my law practice involves helping clients navigate the rough and
choppy waters of divorce. As their attorney, I listen intently to each of them as they pour their
hearts out to me. Often, my clients feel overwhelmed, anxious, flawed, and dejected. The pain
they feel is very real and I acknowledge it, as sharing such negative feelings with someone
trustworthy and understanding can be very cathartic. That said, I do not leave them there.
The many years spent in this role has taught me a lot about the divorce process, and not all of
it has to do with divorce law. What I have come to know is that divorce, with all its difficulty
and pain, is an opportunity for both individuals to begin again – to reboot their lives, so to
I have found again and again that, despite how hard it is to go through, divorce can be a
transformative experience. And I have found a key in this process is learning to practice
gratitude. Even science has proven it: practicing gratitude makes us happier; even while
going through tough times in our lives, such as divorce.
In a book entitled Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Dr. Robert A.
Emmons conducted several studies on the psychology of gratitude and found that being
thankful can actually increase one’s happiness. In one study, people who wrote down five
things they were grateful for in the past week felt 25 percent happier than those who
focused on “hassles” or neutral events over the same time period. The grateful group was
also more optimistic about the future, felt better about themselves, and even exercised
more than the others. In another study, Emmons found participants who expressed
gratitude also were more satisfied with their lives overall and even slept better.
In our The Guide to Good DivorceSM seminars, I encourage attendees to think of one thing in
their lives they can be thankful for. In countless situations, I have witnessed a distinct shift
in the group as each one shares what or who they are thankful for in their lives. I encourage
my clients to not only practice gratitude, but also to seek out a community of supporters.
The comfort and power available from a community of like-minded women experiencing
similar challenges offers a peace that comes from shared solutions. Often there will be
tears, but all participants in such exercises leave with smiles on their faces and a new
outlook on their situation.
For those going through divorce or considering it, spend this holiday practicing gratitude
and see if it helps. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III is a Houston-based Board Certified Family Law Attorney and
creator of The Guide to Good DivorceSM seminars for women. If you have questions about
your Texas divorce, please contact The Law Office of Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III, P.C. for a
consultation. If you’d like more information about Trey Yates’ 2015 Guide to Good Divorce
seminars, please visit www.GuideToGoodDivorce.com or call 713.742.6606.