For some, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a holiday season filled with joy and happiness at the prospect of spending time with family. For others, it's a sadder time blemished by bad memories or dread. Some people see their lives filled with abundant blessings and find thankfulness easy and natural; others are so pre-occupied with tending to past wounds or current crises that they simply don't feel grateful.
Regardless of where you fit on this spectrum, I hope you will approach this Thanksgiving with a commitment to give yourself and others who deserve it the gift of gratitude.
Sincerely thanking others for something they did or for the role they play in your life is not merely good manners and good ethics. I think William James was right when he said, "The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated." Fortunately, it's a need easily met. It costs so little and means so much. Just putting appreciation into words can make someone's day, or even change their life.
But there is another side of gratitude and it should play a much larger part in your life. Expressing gratitude is what you do for others, but experiencing gratitude is what you must do for yourself. Willie Nelson, after struggling with depression and addiction, said, "When I started counting my blessings my whole life turned around."
Feeling gratitude is a potent tonic that can immeasurably improve your happiness and sense of well-being. Author Melodie Beatie tells us why. "Gratitude" she says, "unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more."
The platitudes are true. The key to happiness is deciding to be happy. It's not getting more than you have; it's appreciating what you have.
So, whether things are going well or poorly, this Thanksgiving, open up a new emotional bank account and start filling it with all the things that deserve your gratitude. If you do, you will have even more to be grateful for.