This Thursday is my favorite US Holiday of the year, Thanksgiving. This Holiday started out as a Harvest Festival and the origin of this day occurred here in Massachusetts at the Plymouth plantation and it is said to have lasted 3 days.
- It was celebrated on and off Nationally since 1789 after a proclamation by George Washington.
- It became a Federal Holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise, and to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.
It is good to put this into perspective, but I don't think I really need to teach anyone here about Thanksgiving as it is a pretty well-known Holiday. What I want to talk about today can be more easily visualized by changing this word around.
Thanksgiving is really "Giving Thanks"
Pause, and take a moment and think about a few things that you are truly thankful for.
This is a very personal experience and I am sure there are a lot of different things we are all thankful for and I bet some are similar. If we cannot think of something, then we need to meditate and think about this a bit longer as I am sure there is something.
Earlier I noted that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and the reason is that for me and my family traditions, it is about sharing a meal and taking the time to be thankful for all that I have.
I also use this time of year to think about how much fortune and goodness I have and how I can share it with others. In some cases, it might be donating food or something to someone else or just helping someone out who may need it.
But…Being thankful is actually good for you.
In a 2003 Research project by Emmons and McCullough, they found that you can be happier and affect a positive change in your life if you do the following.
Every day, take a few minutes and write down 3 things that you are thankful for that happened in the last 24 hours. It could be on paper, in a word document or a sticky note. And it doesn't matter what you write.
This will cause you to scan the world and look for something positive every day. Because normally we are bombarded with negative news.
If you do this for 21 days, you will have 63 positive things written down. And since research shows that you can make a habit or change if you do something for 21 days, this small and simple act can turn you from a pessimist into an optimist.
In the study mentioned earlier, they also did this in a work environment. Before a meeting do the following.
- Write down one thing you are thankful for yourself
- then one thing that you are thankful about of a coworker
- then one thing that you are thankful about for your team
- Then have the meeting, tackle important issues and problems and the evidence shows that this made them work together better and the performance of the team improved.
I believe that this would work at home. Maybe start your family dinner with something you are thankful for (yourself, a family member and the family in general).
Being Thankful is good
It involves random acts of kindness.
Every day for 21 days, they asked a CEO to do the following. Open their email, and before they read even one email (that is the hard part), send out a 2-minute email praising or thanking someone in their social support network. A friend, family member, mentor, coach, teacher, whatever. (not necessarily a coworker). What they found is that After 21 days the brain learns that they have robust social support and it is now activated it, as they just reached out to them. Having social support is a key contributor to Happiness and the CEO's in this study were happier and as a byproduct, more effective.
Right now, we live in interesting times. There is currently a great political divide and how we move forward may be the test of who we are as Americans or as humans.
What if?? There was a movement of Thanksgiving …... Giving Thanks...... Perhaps like a virus, that started spreading and everyone got this virus for a minimum of 21 days where we all were thankful, and that thankfulness started to spread? What do you think would happen?
I'd like to find out.