Thanksgiving Day Traditions
For some, Thanksgiving Day is far removed from the idea of giving gratitude. If old traditions have fallen by the wayside or if family time is stressful, it can be especially easy to overlook the point of the celebration. Many have created new traditions that serve them better. Some volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinners at homeless shelters or deliver them to those who are homebound. If you have a traditional dinner with family, consider asking each person to spend a minute or two describing the things that have happened during the year that they are particularly thankful for. Create a new tradition that works for you.
by Edsel L
Have you told the people in your life what you appreciate about them? Consider doing it in writing. Seligman suggests writing a full page with specific details, laminating it and setting a time to get together in person to present itl
Find ways to cultivate the habit of gratitude. Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance said, “You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.”
In honor of Veteran’s Day, be sure to let those serving in the Armed Forces and their families know how much you appreciate their sacrifices.
Where do you stand?
If you’re curious about your general level of gratitude, go to www.authentichappiness.com and take the gratitude survey (these are also available in the book Authientic Happiness by Dr. Martin Seligman). It’s free, as are all the assessments at that site. They are based on research in positive psychology being conducted at the University of Pennsylvania and other institutions.
Instead of focusing only on mental illness, positive psychology research has been looking to see if traits that make some happier or more optimistic than others can be developed. While it appears that there is a natural leaning toward optimism or pessimism for each individual, experiences also play a role and people can learn more optimistic behaviors. Several studies suggest that optimistic people liver longer and more satisfying lives.
One study was of nuns living very similar lives in a convent. They wrote essays during their early 20s and sixty years later, researchers found that those who expressed the most positive emotions in their essays lived up to ten years longer than those who expressed more negative emotions. Study abstract
You may also want to have a look at researcher Barbara Fredrickson’s findings on the 3:1 positivity ratio and take the Positivity Ratio assessment.
The series continues later this week. Follow this link for more beautiful expressions of gratitude. Pringle Hill’s gratitude journal
Gratitude Journal by Pringle Hill
Thanksgiving is a great time to think about and feel gratitude but let’s not stop there. There are many benefits to the habit of gratitude. Current research has shown that people who feel and show their gratitude are living happier lives. In this series of blog posts we’ll explore ways that you can develop the habit.
The Gratitude List
Thanks in many languages by woodleywonderworks
Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day to write down at least five things for which you are grateful. Imagine a world where the newspapers and news shows focused on all the good things that happen instead of the “newsworthy” bad events. It’s not hard to imagine that it would have a dramatically different impact on the people reading and watching. Changing your personal focus from the things that are going wrong to the things that are going right has a similar effect.
Robert A. Emmons, University of California, Davis and Michael E. McCullough, University of Miami are conducting a research project on gratitude and thankfulness. They found that those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week. They also were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals. The control groups in the experiment kept journals of neutral life events or of the hassles they experienced (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). See http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/labs/emmons/ for additional research results on gratitude and thankfulness.
Let us know your experiences with a gratitude journal or list and check back this week for additional ideas.