With great excitement I anticipate this year’s Thanksgiving reunion with my husband, children and brothers, their spouses and my in-laws. At our home, a large gathering of family is always great fun for us and Thanksgiving is all about being together and eating wonderful food, something I enjoy preparing and will have lots of help with. I hope that all of you reading this are also looking forward to getting together with friends or family.
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to reflect on the blessings we’ve enjoyed during the past year, originally focusing on an ample harvest. The practice of gratitude on a routine basis takes this one day event to a whole new level. There are great benefits to practicing gratitude regularly: studies have shown that taking the time to pay attention to what we’re grateful for helps people have a positive attitude, boosts the immune system, improves sleep, and helps us be more empathetic and kind toward others.
Gratitude journals have become commonplace these days. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a journal. I have seen a small memo pad (you know, the spiral bound kind that cost about a dollar) with “Give Thanks Today” written on the cover in marker that serves the purpose. And you don’t have to have grandiose experiences to enjoy gratitude. Sure, having a new grandchild or getting a big promotion are big deals and obvious things to be thankful for. But sometimes the little things add up in a big way.
The considerate driver who motions you out of the parking lot onto a busy street, finishing up leaf pickup for the year, taking that first delicious sip of your morning coffee, or getting a smile and a wave from a neighbor as you take the trash receptacle out to the curb are all things that can improve your gratitude quotient. Jot them down and include a comment about how you felt when it happened or why it made you happy. For example, my husband has offered to make the pie crusts a couple of days in advance for Thanksgiving Day pies because he knows I’ll be busy with lots of other details for the gathering – I am so thankful that he’ll have those ready for me when it’s time to assemble pies.
Each day, you’ll compound your gratitude by changing your perception of what’s going on around you. Before you know it, you’ll be noticing new things to be grateful for, not just the same things every day such as what a great family you have. Yes, it’s great to give thanks for your family but challenge yourself to come up with fresh ideas of what you’re thankful for.
Imagine if everyone around us practiced gratitude daily – what a wonderful world this would be. Enjoy a happy, healthy Thanksgiving.
Penny Sitler is Executive Director of Mental Health America of Licking County.
Found in The Newark Advocate November 24, 2016