It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving! Time to “count your blessings” as an old hymn lyric goes, and to tell about the things you are thankful for!
Do you have a program to attend, or a special event to celebrate the bounty of harvest? Maybe you have the Hallmark version of this holiday and everyone sits around the beautiful table with the perfect turkey, all the dishes are hot at the same time, no fighting or bad attitudes, and there are thankful hearts and smiling faces….for others of us, well….maybe not so much.
Whatever you may experience this holiday, take a moment to “count your blessings” or name things which you are thankful for, appreciate, or receive as good. Studies show that it will help you live life well!
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, is a book about happiness (obviously!), how to feel more of it, and how feeling, or even just thinking, about something that makes us happy impacts the success in other areas of our lives. Achor lectured at Harvard for many years in the most popular class. The subject? Happiness.
There are several tools that are described in the book that can be used to increase happiness. One way is to keep a gratitude journal (there's an app for that!) to make it easier for you to develop this habit. Positive Psychology has used this tool to treat depression successfully. Whether or not we are experiencing depression or discouragement, this is a good habit to develop.
Achor recommends not only jotting down daily what you are thankful or grateful for, but also recording the why. The why of it is what creates the most meaning for us. It’s good to say “I’m grateful for the beautiful sunrise or sunset” or “I’m thankful for my home/job/family”, but when you add the why there is much more power. For me, it means more to say,
“I am thankful for the sunrise because it is the start of a new day - and I need to start over today”, or “I am thankful for my home because I feel safe now - I haven’t felt that for awhile.”
The list can go on. The “why” gives added depth and meaning.
Expressing gratitude is also a tool used to treat depression. Our brain undergoes chemical change when we are thankful! It gives us a new perspective and orientation to our situation, to our life. Our outlook for the future improves – even if the future is just a little past that moment.
Take advantage of this Thanksgiving holiday to start counting your blessings now. Change your future and outlook to the positive - name what you are grateful for and why!