Thanksgiving is More Than Turkey

It's easy for the Thanksgiving holiday to be little more than a day spent with family or friends and eating too much. However, Thanksgiving not only as a holiday, but as a lifestyle, is far more important to your physical and emotional wellbeing.

Improve Quality of Life

Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California has been studying gratitude for almost ten years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude. He is the author of the book, “How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.” The book is based on research involving thousands of people and is conducted by a number of different researchers around the world. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those who actively practiced gratitude experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

In addition, Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have stronger immune systems, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”

Appreciate Every Day’s Gifts

People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. Imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one-by-one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. In addition, start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for the big achievements, getting the promotion, having a comfortable nest egg saved up, getting married, having the baby, etc., before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.

Another way to use gratitude to appreciate life more fully is to put things in their proper perspective. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity, ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”

A Bit Pollyanna?

Being grateful for what you have is by no means suggesting you “look through rose-colored glasses.” Many individuals are dealing with serious emotional difficulties, and gratitude can be a distant hope. However, as Emmons’ research clearly points out, individuals who were genuinely grateful were emotionally more healthy, had greater self-esteem, and more optimism for the future.

More Resources

The HealthQuest Employee Assistance Program is a confidential resource that has been helping State of Kansas employees improve their emotional health for more than twenty years. Call us confidentially at 1-888-275-1205, option 7 for more information.