Thanksgiving is a uniquely American tradition where we, as a community and society, pause to give thanks, an expression of gratitude, for where we are in this journey we call life.
It is said that Thanksgiving first began in November 1621. On the first Thanksgiving Governor William Bradford and a delegation from the Wampanoag, including their sachem Massasoit gathered for a harvest celebration. The groups celebrated their alliance and the Plymouth colony’s first successful corn harvest. While the peace these groups enjoyed was not to last, the tradition of Thanksgiving lives on. That’s not surprising - gratitude is a desirable human quality that makes life better for ourselves and those around us – for many like the Wampanoag, giving thanks is a part of daily life and it features in other ancient cultural practices and scriptures. There is now increasing scientific evidence that the practice of gratitude supports our own health and well being.
The Practice of Gratitude
Gratitude has been shown to be fundamental to our mental, physical, and social/relational well-being throughout our lifetime. From the very young to the very old, we all benefit from a practice of gratitude. If we want to reap the benefits of a gratitude practice, it is best practiced daily. Think about it like flossing your teeth. Each instance of doing so doesn’t do a lot, but flossing consistently provides huge benefits.
There are many ways to practice gratitude. My gratitude practice is daily – done in the evening before I go to bed – and involves answering these 3 questions:
- Today I am grateful for ________ in the world
(Fill in the blank about something you are grateful for that exists or happened in the world)
- I am also grateful for _______ being in my life.
(Fill in the blank about a person or persons for whom you are grateful for their presence in your life.)
- Finally, I am grateful for _______ skills/abilities that I have been given (or have developed).
(Fill in the blank about set of skills or abilities that you have that make your life better and contribute to those around you and the world at large.)
When you keep a daily gratitude journal, you end up with a long list of things for which to be grateful. These lists come in particularly handy when you may be feeling down or frustrated or any negative emotion.
So, here’s my list for today, Thanksgiving 2022:
- Today I am grateful that I live in a country that has Thanksgiving as a holiday that celebrates gratitude.
- I am also grateful for my family (my father, brother, sister-in-low, niece and nephew) as well as Dejah Urbanovitch and Jenny Wareham, my team members who feel like family! And I am grateful to all the people and organizations that have supported me for over the past year.
- Finally, I am grateful for the ability to see connections between situations and behaviors that appear disparate to others, and my ability to communicate these connections, in a way that improves the world for me and for those around me.
If you’d like to see how you score on a gratitude assessment, check out this link.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!
I’d love to hear your questions and comments. If you would like to discuss this topic further, just drop me a note.