Unless you have been living under a rock (but not Plymouth Rock—I couldn’t pass it up!), you know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Take a moment and consider what you’re focused on. Maybe it’s a delicious turkey dinner, a football game, or a long-awaited Black Friday sale. Or perhaps you’re fixated on the number of relatives who will soon be descending on your house and all of the preparations you need to take care of. But have you also spent any time focusing on the real “point” of this holiday—the things in your life for which you’re grateful?
It seems to me that for most of us in America, the “thanks” in “Thanksgiving” has gotten lost in parades, food, and commercialism. On this holiday—and throughout the year, in fact—most of us are less focused on what we have to be thankful for and more focused on what we want and how we can get more. And guess what? This attitude is making us miserable. In fact, according to a 2007 Reuter’s.com article, a study done by Italian researchers found that Americans are less happy today than they were thirty years ago. We’re so fixated on what we lack and on what’s going wrong that there’s no room left for us to enjoy all of the blessings that we have.
My friends, I’d like to challenge all of you to change your attitudes and really celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow…and then carry that attitude of gratitude with you throughout the year. Trust me, it’s for your own good. Grateful people are happy people, and they’re also healthier—25 percent healthier, in fact, according to studies—than their unappreciative peers.
Here’s a starting point: Tomorrow, as you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner with your loved ones, think about everyone and everything that have made this meal possible. Your ancestors, whose hard work laid the foundation for your own life. Our nation’s Founding Fathers, whose resolve and principles allowed us to live in the greatest democracy on earth. Past and present veterans and service members, who have put themselves in harm’s way—and even made the ultimate sacrifice—to protect us. And those are just a few starting points for a feeling of gratitude. I’m sure you’ll think of many, many more, like your health, your house, the fact that there’s food on the table, and of course the love of your family and friends, etc.
Once you begin to consciously notice all of the great things in your life, and once you realize that you can’t take full credit for the existence of any of them, you’ll consistently feel more grateful, privileged, and humble. You might even begin to notice that you feel silly for dwelling on the fact that your neighbor was able to buy a new car this year while you weren’t.
As gratitude becomes a more prominent part of your thought processes, verbalize as much of your thanks as you can. Tell the people in your life how much you appreciate them. Why not start tomorrow with the family members who are sharing Thanksgiving dinner with you? I can tell you from experience, when you begin to connect with others in this manner, your whole way of viewing the world will change. You will feel so much more fulfilled, blessed, privileged, and happy. And you’ll look back on this Thanksgiving as one of the best holidays/turning points of your life!