One of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving just brims with all the good we need when facing life challenges. A gathering of friends and family, good food, games and overall relaxation make for a special day.
I grew up in a large Wisconsin farm family. My mother and then my sister-in-law put on a huge feast for 25-35 with what appeared to be the same apparent ease as it is for me to make a microwaveable meal. I don’t know how they did it. There was turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and of course everyone brought their favorite appetizer or dessert. Plenty of wine and beer all around and lots of talk about farming, football and deer hunting.
But not everyone has the fond memories of Thanksgiving or the holidays that I have. If you are struggling with the holidays, take a lesson from this November day and simply be thankful.
I’ve written a lot about the benefits of gratitude and even having a gratitude journal as a place to keep a record of all the good things in your life. You might list the names of people who bring you joy, hobbies, your physical traits, or even the material things you put value on. This simple daily act can have profound benefits.
According to Psychology Today, “In one study, over 200 urban high school students used GiveThx, which provided users a space for gratitude journaling and privately thanking other students on the app. Compared to the control group, GiveThx users reported being more grateful and having a more positive affect, less negative affect and anxiety, and more satisfaction with both their friendships and life six weeks later. They also expressed higher scores across several measures of socioemotional learning, including emotion regulation, altruism, and achievement motivation.”
Psychology Today author, Ross E O'Hara, Ph.D. goes on to say, “Gratitude, however, is more than rote politeness or a calculated strategy to keep the gifts coming. Being grateful is linked to higher levels of life satisfaction, optimism, vitality, helpfulness, empathy, forgiveness, and positive affect. Gratefulness broadens our perspective on life, allowing us to be more creative and insightful. Gratitude also reduces feelings of envy, negativity, depression, and anxiety. Some have argued that gratitude is central to our relationships with other people and to the human experience as a whole.
So let me give it a whirl. I am grateful for:
· Province, the beautiful community where we live;
· My family,
_ My sister Marie and sister-in-law, Jo, who talk to me almost every day and bring a sunshiny smile to our conversations.
· My son, who brings an ever-changing adventure to our lives.
· My friends, old and new.
· My husband Jim, whose quiet, steady demeaner brings stability to my normal emotional self.
· The women I visit on hospice, who bring me perspective on life and living.
· And, of course, all of you, my Monthly Musing readers. Thank you for your feedback and reading my little ditties each month. I hope I bring you a moment of joy and contemplation.