Happy Thanksgiving! Why giving thanks makes you happier
Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a holiday to celebrate your blessings and the bounty in your life—you might think it’s about the food and family, and it is, as they are part of your bountiful blessings! Practicing Thanksgiving gratitude on Thanksgiving and every day thereafter will make you happier. We’ll get into why gratitude creates happiness, but first, Thanksgiving:
Our American Thanksgiving stems from two events: the Protestant Reformation and subsequent Separatist pilgrims settling on the east coast, and the traditional prayers and celebrations of gratitude after harvests which are common to almost all religions. The presumed first Thanksgiving was in 1621, when the Plymouth settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season (thanks to their native american teacher and interpreter Squanto). First a religious observance, it is now considered a civil tradition without religious affiliation.
Why Gratitude Scientifically Makes You Happier
There’s a huge body of work “proving” that gratitude statistically makes you happier and healthier. If science is your schtick, you’ll love knowing:
- Gratitude journaling once a week for ten weeks made study participants a full 25 percent happier than a group that journaled about their hassles. They reported fewer health complaints, and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more.
- Gratitude journaling daily boosted these effects even higher.
- Adults with congenital and adult-onset neuromuscular disorders (NMDs) who wrote down their blessings nightly reported more hours of sleep each night and more satisfaction with their lives as a whole, felt more optimism, and felt more connected with others than those in the control group.
- The more grateful a person is, the less depressed they are. In one study, clinically depressed individuals showed significantly lower gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than non-depressed controls, reported by Philip Watkins at Eastern Washington University.
Why Gratitude Anecdotally Makes You Happier
You just FEEL better when you’re thankful and grateful for what you’ve got. Here’s why:
- You get to “count your blessings” and be reminded of all the great things in your life
- Gratitude keeps you focused on your own life, instead of comparing to others
- You choose gratitude. It can help with perspective, teaching you to reframe problems as opportunities or consider how you translate a given event.
- It reminds you what’s important—you sweat less of the little things
- Thanking others makes THEM happier, which makes you happy in turn
- Gratitude keeps you in the NOW
- Gratitude makes you more receptive to future experiences and occurences
Be thankful this Thanksgiving, but more than that, the more grateful you can be throughout the year, the happier you will become!