Thanksgiving, but literally
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That means it’s time to start searching for your ASTRONOMICALLY expensive flights back home, and time to start putting together a dairy-free and sugar-free dessert for Thanksgiving dinner at Aunt Cindy’s house. It’s time to prep your lists: one list of reasons for your lack of offspring to rattle off to the grandparents, another list of Kosher conversation topics to keep the peace with your sisters-in-law, and one final list of justifications for your outfits, your city of residence, and your church of choice (… or lack thereof).
As a reward for surviving Thanksgiving, you have approximately one minute to breath and consume all the Vitamin C you can, before diving into the thralls of Black Friday sales and shopping centers to get gifts for everyone on your list without completely draining your bank account. And don’t forget that end of the year push at work! Crazy hours, cranky coworkers, and concerned clients… ah, the price you pay to afford the perfect holiday season.
What’s ironic is that the one thing that doesn’t land on our to-do list during Thanksgiving season is, well, giving thanks. We’re so busy managing external crises and demands that we begin to completely neglect gratitude.
But friends, it is SO IMPORTANT to maintain gratitude in our lives! How important you ask? Well important enough that scientists, psychologists, and philosophers have been researching and writing about gratitude for, well, literally, thousands of years. In a 2003 study, researchers found that practicing daily gratitude improved general wellbeing, improved both the quality and quantity of people’s Sleep on it, led people to be more optimistic about the future, and left people with “considerably more satisfaction with their lives as a whole.” (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). And these effects of a daily gratitude practice were so pronounced that even the significant others of participants noticed an improvement in wellbeing.
Okay, so science says we should practice gratitude, but what does that mean for us every-day-in-the-thick-of-the-holidays-non-study-participants?
Well in our neck of the woods, we like the 5-4-3-2-1 Weekly Gratitude Practice. It’s a Monday-Friday FREE gratitude tool that takes mere minutes, is easy to remember, and is guaranteed to leave you feeling more fulfilled than when you began. Here’s how it works:
5: List 5 things that you are grateful for that you can physically see, i.e., my morning coffee, the beautiful snowfall, my office space heater, broken in slippers… you get the idea.
4: List 4 things that you are grateful for that you cannot see, i.e., my job, my friendships, new business opportunities, healthy children, etc.
3: List 3 things in the future that you are looking forward to, i.e., my weekly acupuncture appointment, this afternoon’s walk, celebrating Thanksgiving with family.
2: List 2 things that someone else did for you which you are grateful, i.e, a coworker handling a particularly challenging client, your brother helping you with computer problems. **bonus if you drop ‘em a note to let them know!
1: List 1 thing you can do next week to make someone else grateful., i.e., sending a friend flowers, doing the dishes after dinner, or watching the game with your husband.
So let’s say ADIOS to the holiday headaches and celebrate Thanksgiving by thanksgiving, literally
SOURCES Emmons, R.A. & McCullough, M.E. (2003). Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 84. 377-389.