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UpBeat Living: The Power of Thanksgiving

© 2010 Kebba Buckley Button, M.S., O.M.  World Rights Reserved.

It’s that time of year again.  Yes, it’s the time when turkeys go on sale in every market in the U. S.!  Grateful and clever shoppers can get whole turkeys for a tenth of the regular price per pound.  Then they stuff, roast, deep fry, smoke, or even barbeque the birds.  U.S. History suggests the attachment to roasting turkeys in late November dates back to 1621.  Settlers grateful for a bountiful harvest in the New World held a community banquet with Native American neighbors and gave thanks for surviving and thriving.  Over the next 200 years, gratitude for provenance persisted, and presidents and governors issued various proclamations of Fall harvest Thanksgiving Days. Finally President Lincoln, citing “the gracious gifts of the most high God”, proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day in 1863.  In 1941, Congress made Thanksgiving an annual day of thanks, to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

So why do people nurture their thankfulness, or “thanksgiving?”  Certainly, religious and spiritual principles prompt people to think in grateful terms, focusing on what they have, rather than on what they don’t have.  People of faith are likely to attribute Divine Source and thank the Divine for the good in their lives.  However, regardless of belief systems, it feels good to be grateful.  Research has now shown there are multiple benefits of living gratefully.  Socially, grateful people have a better ability to empathize, and others see them as generous and helpful.  Grateful people have higher levels of vitality, optimism, and satisfaction with life, as well as less depression.  People keeping gratitude journals regularly have been found to exercise more regularly, have fewer negative physical symptoms, and feel better about life and their expectations of upcoming events.  In one study, adults with neuromuscular disease responded to a 21-day gratitude program with higher energy, better moods and sense of connection to others, higher appraisal of their life, and better sleep.

Sometimes we resent the appearance of a situation but later see a different perspective and find gratitude.  A classic story illustrates this phenomenon.  A man survives a shipwreck alone, and eventually he is able to construct a hovel from driftwood.  Returning from foraging one day, he finds his hut burning to the ground.  He is devastated and resentful at losing the little he had on this isolated island.  Shortly, a rescue craft arrives, responding to his “smoke signal”.  His view of the fire event is reversed.  He is saved and grateful.

What positives move you, in your own life and in the bigger picture?  What sparks your thankfulness:  a cute baby animal, a beautiful garment, a favorite food or beverage, clouds, a sharp razor, a natural landscape, your job, your marriage, kindness, friends, your church, a favorite sport?  Start a list of everything you like or are grateful for.  Feel your attitude and body chemistry lift.  If you’re ready, get excited about how happy you are about these things.  Notice how adding to your list gets easier and easier.  Review your list often, and notice your perspective changing.  That’s the power of thanksgiving.

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Reach the writer at Kebba@Kebba.com

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