Thanksgiving is ideally a time to be thankful and break bread with family and friends, but we all know that this idyllic view of Thanksgiving is not always possible in a world that is, by any definition, imperfect. Whether you are dealing with personal illness, family struggles, loneliness or uncertainty, it might seem hard to muster up the strength to enjoy another Thanksgiving Day.
An Attitude of Gratitude
But the powerful impact of gratitude can change your outlook. Instead of letting things get in the way of having a meaningful holiday, try to appreciate things in small doses. Notice a simple pleasure, a moment of levity, an affectionate gesture or kindnesses from others. In fact, psychologists have found that being able to express gratitude – or thankfulness – has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others. If you increase your positive thoughts, like gratitude, you can improve your physical health as well as your sense of well-being.
Some Simple Ways to Enjoy the Day
Good food, good company and good conversations go a long way in making Thanksgiving Day enjoyable, but here are a few other things you can try to make the day even more memorable:
- Acknowledge the ways in which you’ve given to those in need and feel gratitude for having the means to help others.
- Help make food from scratch – even if it’s just chopping vegetables or stirring the pot, as it connects you to family and loved ones in the process.
- Be cell-phone free! Maybe pick a set time to take a group family photo but then encourage everyone to put cell phones away and pay attention to the people whose company you are sharing.
- Focus on what you admire and appreciate about your family members and let them know how you feel about them.
Gratitude Year Round
John F. Kennedy said, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to do this, but it is also just one day of the year. Gratitude can have the most benefit when it is part of your daily life. Gratitude shifts your focus from what you wish you had to the abundance of what is already present in your life. So start this Thanksgiving and try to acknowledge the people close to you who make a difference.
Keeping a journal or speaking your expressions of gratitude can increase your own awareness of what you have to be grateful for. Talk about something that happened, something you felt, an observation of beauty in nature, or someone in your life who has made a positive impact on you. Or, take the time to notice things, in the moment, that you are thankful for.
Giving Thanks Feels Good!
This Thanksgiving, no matter how difficult things may be in the world or maybe in your personal life, try to tap into a reservoir of thankfulness. If giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, strengthens relationships, improves health and reduces stress, that sounds like a good Thanksgiving recipe to try!
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