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There truly is happiness to be found in Thanksgiving
by Jeff Latcham
Nov 27, 2013 | 74 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thanksgiving is our traditional day of thanks, family and celebration of the harvest. It’s turned into a day of feasting, football and tryptophan overload.

It turns out, though, that being grateful is good for you. As a flood of stories and videos this summer expounded, thankfulness is central to happiness.

Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of California-Riverside, enumerates the ways expressing gratitude enriches the giver:

“First, grateful thinking promotes the savoring of positive life experiences. By relishing and taking pleasure in some of the gifts of your life, you will be able to extract the maximum possible satisfaction and enjoyment from your current circumstances...

“Second, expressing gratitude bolsters self-worth and self-esteem. When you realize how much people have done for you or how much you have accomplished, you feel more confident and efficacious...

“Third, gratitude helps people cope with stress and trauma. That is, the ability to appreciate your life circumstances may be an adaptive coping method by which you positively reinterpret stressful or negative life experiences...

“Fourth, the expression of gratitude encourages moral behavior. As I mentioned earlier, grateful people are more likely to help others (e.g., you become aware of kind and caring acts and feel compelled to reciprocate) and less likely to be materialistic (e.g., you appreciate what you have and become less fixated on acquiring more stuff)...

“Fifth, gratitude can help build social bonds, strengthening existing relationships and nurturing new ones...

“Sixth, expressing gratitude tends to inhibit invidious comparisons with others. If you are genuinely thankful and appreciative for what you have (e.g., family, health, home), you are less likely to pay close attention to or envy what the Joneses have...

“Seventh, the practice of gratitude is incompatible with negative emotions and may actually diminish or deter such feelings as anger, bitterness, and greed...

“Last but not least, gratitude helps us thwart hedonic adaptation. If you recall, hedonic adaptation is illustrated by our remarkable capacity rapidly to adjust to any new circumstance or event... By preventing people from taking the good things in their lives for granted – from adapting to their positive life circumstances – the practice of gratitude can directly counteract the effects of hedonic adaptation.”

Like so many things, what Dr. Lyubomirsky spells out in detail, most parents, grandparents and the Bible espouse instinctively. If you think about ungracious personas – spoiled brats, divas and curmudgeons – they ultimately are unhappy folks.

So do yourself a favor this Thanksgiving and actually express thanks to those who have touched your life and the blessings within it. You can easily start with the two big miracles: life and love. Once you really start counting blessings, it’s hard to stop.

Before you know it, you’ll truly have a “Happy Thanksgiving.”
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