OK, so we are going to be thankful for one single day?
Big deal. Unless you are the turkey, it’s easy to be thankful on Thanksgiving.
We were born and raised in a society that talks about, plans and prepares for, and then celebrates the fourth Thursday in November every year. It's ingrained into the American DNA and it would feel unnatural to do otherwise. However, it's only one day out of 365 days. Are we ungrateful the other 364? What about yesterday, tomorrow or July 21? Is it possible to be thankful daily? Think about the next question …
Can we be thankful and unhappy at the same time?
Health.harvard.edu, an online venue of Harvard Publishing says, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Expressing gratitude is an acknowledgement of what is good in our lives. Psychology Today defines gratitude as a life orientation toward the positive. So, it is no surprise that gratitude is associated with increased happiness and lower rates of depression.
What about the reports of increased depression over the holidays?
We lump Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year together and refer to them as "The Holidays." People have come to believe that there are increased levels of depression and suicide during this period, but it is only partly true. I suspect that the holiday depression begins after Thanksgiving then continues through the end of the year. Think about it … Christmas for many, has been boiled down to become a traditional time of "giving and getting," while Thanksgiving is a time of celebrating what we already have.
How can I possibly be thankful daily?
My mother used to say, “Count your blessings.” We’ve all heard the expression but how many of us have sat with a pen in hand and made a list? When we take inventory of all that is good and right in our lives, we realize how blessed we are. But before you start counting, consider advice from Mother Teresa who said, “We draw the circle of family too small. “
Widen and stretch your gratitude circle. Don’t limit your appreciation. Gratefulness is like kindling to the bonfire created by love in our soul. It grows as you add to it. So, widen the circle where you seek and find your blessings. Be thankful every day, for everything, and everyone that becomes a part of our awareness. If you agree this is a helpful exercise …
What if we treated Thanksgiving daily as a lifestyle?
Cicero wrote, “A thankful heart is not only a virtue but the parent of all other virtues.” If this is true, it is difficult to be thankful and unhappy at the same time. Adopting Thanksgiving as a lifestyle could be a game-changer in almost every area of life.
Now, before a few of you jump up and say, “But," I do understand there are no absolutes. There are those who suffer mental and emotional disorders that are beyond a simple lifestyle change to resolve, but for the other 90-plus percent … wouldn’t this help us improve our attitude, make us happier and in the process, make us more likable and productive?
Try this …
Keep a gratitude journal. Take inventory of all the things in your life that we are thankful for and add to it daily. Be a “Good Finder” and seek out and record those people and life events that truly make us grateful. If you give this a try, it can change the way you look at your life and circumstances.
Why am I thankful?
My list begins with my belief that God loves me even thought I am unworthy. I’m grateful for my wife, children and grandchildren and a wide circle of dear friends. I can go on, and I do, but I won’t bore you with these personal details.
I will, however, express my sincere gratitude to this outstanding publication for allowing me the privilege of talking with you, each week. It is a blessing I enjoy and a responsibility I do not take lightly. I think, ponder, talk, pace, type, delete and start over again. I hope my words will not be hollow, but will have a positive impact.
May God bless you and your family.