The Happiness Connection  

Time for gratitude

Depending on what Thanksgiving traditionally looks like for you, this year’s gathering may be a little different.

I know mine will be.

I can’t blame everything on COVID, although sometimes I’d like to. For totally non-pandemic reasons, this is the first year I’ll be cooking a Thanksgiving dinner just for myself and my folks.

I’ll admit, I’m a little apprehensive about the experience. Not only will I be cooking dinner, I will be chauffeuring, hosting, cleaning up, and making sure everyone has a good time. Just thinking about it tires me out.

There’s a certain irony having these thoughts arise for a Thanksgiving celebration. I seem to have forgotten the purpose behind having a national holiday on the second Monday of October.

I’ve slipped from an energy of gratitude, into one of obligation. You might be able to relate. Are you hosting or attending a Thanksgiving dinner because you should, or because you want to?

To help you not just this weekend, but for times to come, readjust your attitude by adding a liberal splash of thankfulness.

Gratitude often arises when you think about the people and situations that have contributed to good things in your life. It’s has been studied extensively and the results reveal a bevy of benefits.

It’s been shown to

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Boosts happiness
  • Fosters physical health
  • Combat depression
  • Reduce pain, stress, and insomnia
  • Strengthen immune systems
  • Improve academic and professional performance
  • Increase overall mental and physical health

When you receive a kindness from another person you may experience the soft warmth of appreciation and gratefulness. Often, these emotions wash over you without warning.

Some people are naturally more appreciative and find it easier to lean into gratitude. It’s part of their genetic makeup. If you aren’t one of these people, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.

Consciously looking for reasons to be thankful is just as beneficial as spontaneously being immersed in grateful emotions. Try establishing a daily habit of counting your blessings.

Here are a few tips, tricks, and strategies to get you started.

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Some people find this a helpful step when establishing a ritual. It keeps you from pretending you did the work and can act as a helpful reminder.
  • Gratitude rarely has anything to do with monetary worth. How you feel and how something has contributed to the good things in your life is the place to focus.
  • Think of something that’s gone well for you. Identify everything and everyone that’s helped make that happen.
  • Think about people who’ve inspired you and why.
  • Send thank you notes to people you appreciate. I think this strategy is even more amazing if you mail handwritten cards rather than sending an email or text.
  • Try mental subtraction. Think about what your life would be like if you removed something or someone important from it. How would it be different? What would you miss?
  • Reframe challenges as gifts. What did you learn from your experience? How has it helped you grow? What would be different if the difficulty hadn’t arisen?
  • Share your gratitude. Research found this can strengthen relationships and explains why the ritual of saying something you’re thankful for while having a family dinner, is so popular.
  • Think outside the box. Look for new and creative reasons to be thankful. What good things may be disguised as bad?
  • Practice looking at life through a lens of gratitude. Whenever you think about something good in your life, pause for a moment of appreciation. Whenever you encounter a challenge, stop to see how it’s serving you.

The more you practise, the easier it becomes.

Brain scans show a lasting change in the prefrontal cortex for subjects who practiced thankfulness regularly. They became more sensitive to feelings of appreciation and experienced them more often.

I’m grateful that at my age, I still have two living parents who are together in their own home and who enjoy spending time with me. With all the long-distance relationships I’ve had and still have, I am happy I’m here to spend quality time with my folks, rather than just talking to them on the phone.

I don’t know what our Thanksgiving celebration will be like or how I’ll feel when it’s over, but I’m grateful that I can find out.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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