It's Always a Good Time for Gratitude

I've been part of a group that meets monthly to discuss the topic of leadership. There are usually about 30 people in attendance -- sometimes more and sometimes fewer, but everyone there really wants to be there since the meeting starts at 7 am!

We meet at a law firm, and the partner in this very prestigious firm always warmly welcomes us. This month she said more than usual -- she said how grateful she was for the people who come month after month and actively participate in the learning that takes place. She said she's become aware of how important it is to acknowledge what we have to be grateful for in our lives, especially at this time of year. I am grateful for this reminder that being thankful is really important -- and not just at Thanksgiving time!

In the U.S., we celebrate Thanksgiving at the end of November. Because of the timing of our Thanksgiving so close to the December holidays, too many people don't even stop to think about what they're thankful for -- especially when the holiday decorations go up in October. 

I like the timing of the Canadian Thanksgiving -- it is celebrated on the second Monday in October, so it gets its very own focus -- not the U.S. version on the fourth Thursday in November, a day when we eat too much, watch NFL games on TV, and plan our shopping expedition for the next day. Somehow, for many people, the idea of giving thanks for our blessings as a nation and as individuals gets lost.

Several years ago, I started keeping a gratitude journal, and it worked so well for me that I gave them out to family and friends. The idea is that every day you write down three (or as many as you want); things you're grateful for that happened that day. Little things that might go unto unnoticed if I wasn't keeping the journal, but when I write them down at the end of the day, I find myself filled with gratitude for how blessed my life really is. Keeping this journal is a simple way to be grateful each and every day.

A New York Times article by Arthur C. Brooks, published on November 21, 2015, titled "Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make you Happier." tells the story of Mr. Brooks and wife in Barcelona, Spain, sharing the idea of our American Thanksgiving traditions with his new in-laws. He said he had to answer a lot of questions, including why do we stuff the turkey with bread, but the one that stopped him cold was whether one should celebrate the holiday even if you don't feel grateful. Now, years and a lot of research later, he has determined that "acting grateful can actually make you grateful."

The article includes studies that show that "choosing to focus on good things makes you feel better than focusing on bad things", which he said is pretty obvious but nonetheless true.

This Thanksgiving, choose to be happy, give thanks, and express gratitude for the many blessings you have -- be they large or small!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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