Give Thanks and Be Happy

Give Thanks and Be Happy

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  We hope you enjoy your family gatherings and also take note of every little detail that makes your family special to you.  The precious moments seem to always lie in the unexpected laughs found with loved ones, so we hope those times are plentiful and your memories will be full of joy.

People have a variety of traditions when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving.   For some, it may mean volunteering to feed those less fortunate, perhaps reciting what you are most thankful for at dinner, or maybe, for you, it is a quiet moment of reflection.  And as we enter into another Thanksgiving season, we are prompted to take stock of what makes us feel grateful.  For some, it feels as though gratitude is forced out of them like a tube of toothpaste every year at Thanksgiving.  For others, it’s something they cherish and look forward to.  Either way, heartfelt gratitude helps you see value in even the most routine activities, helps to focus on what needs improvement, build upon what you’re doing well, and appreciate the people that help you be the best version of you.

Thanksgiving includes a fair share of symbolic gestures.  Cards will be sent that will brighten someone’s day, turkeys brined, stuffed, baked and fried for those who will be traveling hours to reach you, and thankful summations of everyone’s year, that family and friends truly enjoy, can and should be a part of your holiday.  But shouldn’t we be thankful every day, even if only for one simple thing?  If push came to shove and we had to list something we feel grateful for every day, could we come up with more than a couple of usual items?  It’s worth the effort to try to give thanks often, according to a number of experts, because gratitude can be the cure-all for physical, emotional and stress-related health issues.

Happy Thanksgiving
Gratitude, as it turns out, is the stem cell of everyday happiness.   When money, jobs, trips and extras come and go, a general sense of satisfaction with one’s daily life will legitimately equate to happiness. Of course, it’s easy to argue that a happier life is attainable with luxuries but it’s not a stretch for all of us to be able to appreciate our own special talents and wonders in our lives.  Just look at what everyday people accomplish.  Work, families, hobbies, volunteerism, civic service, and the list goes on.  Work ethics, doing for others, giving when able, raising thoughtful and caring children are all reasons to take pride and give thanks.

The effects of an attitude ripe with gratitude are far-reaching.  According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, people who are more grateful also fell asleep easier. Now that is a reward that almost everyone can appreciate!  Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude, suggests the health benefits of gratitude include lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, less stress and anxiety and reduced symptoms of illness.  His studies go on to conclude that practicing gratitude increases the overall satisfaction and happiness among those in the 10-19 age category, a vulnerable time when at-risk personalities can use extra validation and self-imposed reminders that life is good.

And perhaps the best appreciation comes out of the most mundane, leanest, and most trying times of our lives.  When you count your blessings, perspective is everything and as long as we’re pausing to give thanks, perhaps we’ll also plan ahead to regularly take stock of what’s good in our lives.  Happy Thanksgiving from whatever perspective your gratitude dwells.  I hope we can all meet in a place of thankfulness again several times throughout the coming year.

Photos:  Happy Thanksgiving Everyone by Satya Murphy on Flickr, commercial use allowed
Happy Thanksgiving Sign by Valerie Everett on Flickr, commercial use allowed

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Jodi Schwarzenbach

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