Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. The name says it all. It’s a day to remind us to be thankful for everything we have. It’s a relatively unoffensive holiday, although I know a few who are still offended by it, but they are offended by nearly everything. Most of us join together with friends and/or family to eat and drink way more than we should. But it’s OK, because it’s Thanksgiving.
In honor of Thanksgiving, let’s talk about giving thanks and being happy with what we have. Being thankful and showing gratitude will bring far more happiness than any stuff you can buy. There’s plenty of research to documenting the benefits to our health and mental state just from an intentional practice of gratitude. Like this one from Psychology Today, this one from the International Journal of Public Health Science, and this one from Harvard Medical School.
It’s important to be thankful for the right things though. When you’re not gorging on turkey and mashed potatoes this Thursday, be sure to spend some time thinking about how thankful you are for those around you. At the very least be thankful that they’re putting up with you for the day.
In all seriousness though, it’s the relationships we have in life that we need to be most thankful for. Those are the real gifts.
I haven’t had a chance to read any of her books yet, but Gretchen Rubin has dedicated herself to studying what really makes us happy. I first heard about The Happiness Project on my favorite podcast The Portfolio Life by Jefff Goins when he interviewed Gretchen. Her website has loads of resources on happiness. She has written multiple books written on the subject and has a popular podcast called Happier.
One way to help you practice gratitude is something called a gratitude journal. These come in all forms but some of the more popular versions are available as apps for your phone or tablet. I’ve tried one called Bliss and can attest that if you stick with it for a little while, the act of recording the things that you’re thankful for is a great way to start thinking more about it. You’ll find yourself more frequently appreciating the small moments in life or the people around you that make you happy.
The standard gratitude exercise in Bliss gives you a simple box to type in and says “What are you grateful for?”. It also reminds you to include why you are grateful. Other exercises deal with thinking about the future, honoring people, finding meaning in your work, and others.
I used Bliss pretty consistently for about 3 or 4 months as a test. I stopped for several months I guess because I got busy and kind of forgot about the app. About 6 months later, I saw it on my phone and opened it up. I started reading all the entries of things I was grateful for and it felt great. That day I wrote this:
“I have ignored this app for months but I am thankful for it because I just read through my entries for the past year and it lifted up my mood. It reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for.”
I often forget to stop and be thankful for what I have in life and that’s why I like Thanksgiving so much. Let’s all practice a little more gratitude every day and become happier and healthier people. I’ll start by saying thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. You’re turn.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2017