There are many days that come in with a brilliant dawn and race into blue. Days when every piece fits with precision and one knows exactly why they are doing what it is they do. These are the golden days we cheer on, the days we hold on to, the very ones we celebrate. But there are others. Messy and awkward and ugly. When we wander, lost, lonely and even in fear. Today, we gather those up too, as we scoop up the mashed potatoes onto our too full plates, and unburden ourselves with those who know us, and yet, love us still.
From Oprah to your child’s daycare provider, one hears endlessly about the transformation power of gratitude. Today, on this uniquely American holiday, as many of us gather around long make-shift tables, headed by the matriarch or patriarch, perhaps a little one passed from lap to lap, the chatter, the delight, the joy of reunion, allows gratitude to flow easily. At least that is the idealized vision of Thanksgiving. For families splintered by the recent election, or still carrying an ancient grudge, the temptation might be to settle the score over the turkey, however, I hope, no matter where you are or who you are sharing your table with, I hope, you shift the conversation to love.
Making my gratitude list is simple this Thanksgiving Day. Simple, but important. For years we have heard how gratitude improves our health, relationships, even our careers; apparently there is little that can’t be made better with intentional thanks. Oprah tells us: “Being grateful is by far the single most powerful thing you can do to change your life.” Not surprising, Huffington Post claims that teaching our children gratitude in school will help them become happier too. A new study proposes starting with elementary students by using a pioneering curriculum:
First, children learned about the three types of appraisals that make us feel grateful:
- That someone has intentionally done something to benefit us
- That providing this benefit was costly to them
- That the benefit is valuable to us
After the five-week course “children showed steady increases in grateful thinking, gratitude, and positive emotions… The researchers found that those who were more likely to feel grateful to others also scored higher on academic interest, grades, and extracurricular involvement.” Well, what’s good for kids is good for the rest of us, right? Perhaps we can all take a moment to acknowledge those who give generously to us. Today, I am moved to do just that.