Thanksgiving- Why Be Grateful?

“If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.”   ~ Mitchell Burgess, Northern Exposure, Thanksgiving, 1992

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is, traditionally a time to express gratitude for the harvest produce and otherwise and in this age to express gratitude in general.  Openly, fully, loudly, sincerely declare a hearty ‘Thanks!”  With the seemingly inescapable economic slide and rippling effects shouted by calmly reported by the media in all forms, finding something to be grateful for can be a challenge.  I know, I have felt the blunt force of the “trouble of the past year plus”; my house is on the market, a work major contract ended and my husband and I find ourselves living in two different States due to all the craziness of the past year and a half. So why feel grateful. Heck what is there even to feel grateful for?

The bottom line is a large and growing body of research showing that gratitude is linked to well being. Folks, well being, in body, mind and spirit is invaluable. How else will you get up each day and do what needs to be done and how else will you experience pleasure?  Here are ways people who are more grateful experience well being:

  • They are happier, more satisfied with their relationships and life, and are less stress and less depressed. 1,2,3
  • Higher levels of personal growth, self- acceptance, sense of life purpose and control of their environments.4
  • More positive ways of coping life’s difficulties and changes, like seeking support when its needed, planning how to deal with the problem, reframing, growing form the experience.5
  • Fewer less negative coping strategies, like blaming yourself, denying there is a problem, avoidance, “better living through chemistry” substance abuse as a coping mechanism.5
  • Sleeping better, they think more positive than negative thoughts just before going to sleep.6

Even on the crappiest of days there is something to be grateful for, even when that does not seem possible. There are days where digging for the good is harder and darn near impossible, but the benefits are worth it.

I am grateful for:

  • The love and respect of my husband
  • My nephews (6 yrs and 3 yrs old) singing Happy 40th Birthday to me
  • My health
  • The challenges the year has thrown me and the opportunities that have sprung from it, like being able to devote my work time energy to my Coaching Practice
  • Taming some Gremlins on the dance floor
  • My beloved and supportive family and friends
  • An other cycle of seasons to witness and tend to the miraculous dynamics of my garden

So what are you grateful for this year?

  1. McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127.
  2. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2008). Gratitude uniquely predicts satisfaction with life: Incremental validity above the domains and facets of the Five Factor Model. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 49-54.
  3. Kashdan, T.B., Uswatte, G., & Julian, T. (2006). Gratitude and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in Vietnam War veterans. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 177-199.
  4. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S. & Maltby (2009). Gratitude predicts psychological well-being above the Big Five facets. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 655-660.
  5. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Coping style as a psychological resource of grateful people. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26, 1108 – 1125.
  6. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Lloyd, J., & Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 66, 43-48
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