Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday that heartily welcomes one and all to engage in at least two ubiquitous human practices; eating good food, and of course, giving thanks. If we ponder just those two things, we notice that the typical family eats three times a day and gives thanks… well… hmmm? How often are we really giving thanks? Surely it is not just on Thanksgiving Day! Most would agree that this noble act “should be”, “ought to be” practiced daily. And I agree!
Parents and children alike have much to gain by conscientiously giving thanks. Research proves it!
According to Psychology Today, participants in a study about gratitude reported greater levels of optimism, positive mood, and feelings of belongingness.
These individuals were more likely to help someone struggling with a personal problem by rendering emotional support with pro-social behavior. Study participants also complained of less physical pains and boasted better sleep. And guess what? All these benefits came without lifting an elbow, finger, knee, or toe for exercise! That alone makes me feel thankful!
Ah yes! “Feeling” thankful is as important as “thinking” thankful. When you are authentically thankful, where do you feel it in your body? Do your shoulder’s drop? Maybe you are like me and you sense warmth over your heart. Some of you may feel the corners of your mouth form a smile while others will inhale, and then exhale deeply with content. Psychological well being doesn’t just have to come from our thoughts; it is accompanied by gratified emotions that are sensed by our bodies. Go ahead. Sense yours!
You’ve heard the saying “It takes 30 days to make a habit.”
This November I’d like to invite you and your family to join me for 30 days of giving thanks. Let’s not wait for a New Years “resolution” to experience psychological, social, and or physical benefits.
Starting today November 1st, ask each member of your family to verbalize something that they are thankful for. This five minute family conversation not only allows joyful bonding, it opens windows of opportunity for parents to learn more about their children’s thoughts and emotions. What a great forum to praise or guide your children as they mature!
Your family’s thanks can include joyful occurrences or difficult life lessons that allowed your wisdom to grow. You can be humorous, serious, or exuberant. Your may express a current experience or one that you recall from the past. It should, however, be sincere.
Here is an example of something I’m grateful for. Last year Atlanta was hit by an ice storm. While that is not unusual, the fact that the ice didn’t melt for six days was highly atypical. After being stranded in our homes for nearly a week, we finally headed out to run an errand. Another car decided to pass us on what turned out to be a slick patch of ice. Yup… you guessed it. His car slammed right into ours. I was thankful that no one was hurt. But that’s not where my thanks stopped. My son was with us. He had just received his driver’s permit and this experience taught him several lessons including what not to do in challenging road conditions, and the steps to take when one has a car accident. Lastly, the gentleman who caused the accident took full responsibility for his actions and that fueled my faith that good honest people do exist in the world.
The accident was a dark cloud with several bright silver linings. It taught me to remember to always seek the good in any difficult situation and I’m thankful for that lesson too!
So what about you? What example of thanks will you share with your own family today? How will all of you become a deep well of support and inspiration, poised to benefit each other and those around you?
Please share your thoughts and thanks in our comments section! Oh… and THANK YOU!