The Benefits of Celebrating Thanksgiving Everyday

Thanksgiving is just a memory now, and while I enjoyed the juicy turkey complete with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie, what I loved the most about this special holiday is the time my family, friends, and I pause around our table to articulate what we are thankful for. 

Recently, I started a new job as the director of a program at a new university, and I love it! There’s a lot to learn, connections to make, programs and outreaches to implement, and students to reach.  It’s exciting—and challenging.  As I walk into my new office every morning, I pause on purpose and express gratitude for this job, my colleagues, my students, and this university.  It’s become my daily practice before I flip on the lights. 

Did you know that taking an intentional pause to express gratitude does something to our brains? That’s right—it rewires the brain.  Science has shown us that what we think about—whether it’s positive or negative—creates a deep pathway in our brains (Davidson & Kabat-Zinn, 2004). 

So why not focus on gratitude every day, instead of on the last Thursday in November?  Regardless of our circumstances, our feelings, or perhaps the difficult people in our present lives, articulating our gratitude is a discipline that helps us live in the moment and results in an adjustment to our attitudes.  It also helps us become less judgmental; instead, we accept everything and everyone—positive and/or negative—as they are.  And all of this benefits our brains:  New pathways are formed, and these pathways result in new habits.

This is why I love Thanksgiving—not just the holiday, but more importantly, the practice.  The more we do it, the more it becomes a permanent part of who we are.

Happy (daily) Thanksgiving!

Davidson, R. J., & Kabat-Zinn, J. (2004). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation: Three caveats: Response. Psychosomatic Medicine, 66(1), 149-152.

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