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How to Have the Happiest Thanksgiving Possible

Updated on March 13, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving (Photo by Mike Johnson)
Happy Thanksgiving (Photo by Mike Johnson)

Thanksgiving is a Time of Gratitude

We are living in troubled economic times which have been with us for a while. This means that most of us either are experiencing stress ourselves or have family and friends who are. So we may have to work a little harder again this year to make Thanksgiving a happy time and to think of things we should be grateful for. Here are some suggestions that are free or cost very little and might be helpful in developing and maintaining the right spirit. Put into practice, they could help you and those you love have the happiest Thanksgiving possible.

Thanksgiving Dinner is a Time of Sharing

Having food on the table to share with family or friends is the essence of the traditional celebration. Cultivate the attitude of sharing with and caring about your loved ones. Make your Thanksgiving dinner a joyful celebration of life with deep appreciation of the people you are celebrating it with.

Emphasize Positive Emotions at Thanksgiving

Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the challenge of being at your best with others, even if some may irritate you. Not everyone has to deal with family members who are unappreciative or annoying, but if you do, find a way to dwell on the good in those who bother you. Break through with love and praise. Express joy and interest in the lives of others and contentment with their company.

Thanksgiving is About People

Remember that people are much more important than things. And feelings are much more important than status. Treat family and friends like the most important people in the world, because they are. Kindness is love in action.

Nurturing one’s relationships is harder for some people than it is for those who have learned to do it naturally. But everyone can develop this wonderful habit by doing it over and over, and Thanksgiving is a great time to start! It takes time but time is the one of the best gifts of all.

Prepare for Thanksgiving Cards and Calls

Before Thanksgiving Day gather up the phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses you’ll need to contact those you can’t be with. This will make it easier to follow through with your intention to send them Thanksgiving cards or to contact them on the day.

Call or write to the family and friends you can’t be with on Thanksgiving. Tell them that you are thinking about them, that you love or care about them, and see if they need your help working through any challenges they may be having. Think about what you want you to ask and tell each person. Write these down in advance. Such notes will help you remember important specifics, especially for those you haven’t been in close contact with.

Keep the Spirit of Thanksgiving Throughout the Year

Gratitude is one of the most important positive emotions because it connects us strongly with others and is universally appreciated. Recent research in positive psychology has found that grateful people have greater well-being and lower levels of stress and depression.

In cultivating and communicating the positive emotion of gratitude the grateful person becomes stronger and better able to cope with challenges in life. So make every day a day for thanksgiving and gratitude and you will benefit the most of all.  

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