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ThanksLIVING - Living a Life of Gratitude

Updated on April 1, 2013

Thankful Hearts Are Happy Hearts

Thanksgiving Season

Autumn is my favorite season for multiple reasons: the splendor of changing leaves, crisp morning air, geese flying southward, donning layers (occassionally!), and my favorite holiday - Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday? *gasp* How can that be? Don't you mean Christmas? Nope. Thanksgiving. Family and friends gather for no other purpose than to celebrate the joy of life. We share food - often the same meal seen on Christmas tables. But the difference is in the holiday agenda. Thanksgiving is markably void of commercial hoopla & clamor for Black Friday sales (I've only gone ONCE & so help me, I have no intention of ever, EVER venturing to the marketplace on THAT day again!). Thanksgiving memories are filled with relaxed days of family games, decorating, walks, movies, and warm remembrances of yesteryears.

Many families hold a tradition of sharing what/whom they are most thankful for at some point during the day - as a group. I believe strongly in the value of expressed gratitude - and its importance spans more than just a red letter calendar day.

Thanksgiving Everyday

Years ago someone gave a journal to me. In that journal, I challenged myself to write daily three to five things for which I was thankful. You know what? I did it. "Crappy" days found me expressing gratitude for indoor plumbing - but at least I had that! The cool thing was, with each gratuitous stroke of my pen, proverbial "weight" lifted from my shoulders.

My husband and I determined to engrain a thankful viewpoint in our children. Ever since our children could talk and express themselves, they share a minimum of three things from the day for which they are thankful. I cherish memories of toddler voices declaring, "I am thank you for..." As their ears and understanding grew, their sentences changed grammatically, "I am thankful for..." My youngest, who is two, just recently joined in our roundtable thanksgiving. I anticipate hearing what they hold dear.

The kids are free to share what is important to them. Their "thankfuls" have ranged from spending time with a friend to a neighborhood friend getting their b-b gun confiscated (because that meant the neighbor no longer could shoot birds or squirrels), going to the park to staying up late, a new toy or going out to eat.

Thanksgiving through and above all things

Call me Pollyanna, I do not care. I endeavor to find a silver lining in every situation. When folding ever-growing piles of laundry, I give thanks for automatic washing machines & dryers, and most importantly, for the family who wears the clothes. I have encouraged my children to look for something even in the most seemingly daunting task: homework - that their brains function & they have the opportunity to learn and are not child slaves. I have shown my older children pictures on the world wide web of children who would LOVE to have homework, or have chores to do in a home with parents who love them.

Amazingly, as I declare the people and things for which I am grateful while scrubbing dishes or toilets - the stress dissipates and the chore becomes a joy. When I do not start a task cheerfully, I normally have an attitude change during the chore. One of my goals right now is to approach each task, whether personal or business, with a grateful outlook. When I do, the job is executed in excellence, and the satisfaction is even greater once the project is completed.

Thanksgiving is Good for Your Heart - Literally

 Research shows health benefits in journaling your thanks.  In a Public Radio International piece, Jeffrey Froh, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hofstra University, conducted a study amongst college students.  He is quoted: "It's beyond feeling good, and beyond happiness ... we found that grateful kids tend to report less physical complaints; bit also in the adult literature ... they found that grateful people who counted blessings were more likely to exercise, more likely to report better sleep; less likely to report these physical complaints. There's even some research done, we're looking at, when you have a sense of appreciation your heart rhythms are more coherent and smooth, which of course is healthy."

Taste & See

I challenge you to begin journaling thoughtful reflections of events or things for which you are grateful each day. Jot a minimum of three items - DAILY. If you have a spouse or children, roommate, include them in an outward pow-wow of gratitude. You'll be glad you did, and so will they -- even if not immediately. My children's friends participate when spending the night with our family. One child expressed, "Yay! Thankfuls! I love those. They're fun." If we are running late and I send the kids to bed without our thankful time, most of the time they object, "But we haven't had our thankfuls!" :-D And for that I am truly thankful.

Do you have a daily "thankful" time? (and I'm not talking about mealtime prayers!)

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    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      A great time to inventory our lives and how much we have for which to be thankful.

    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Thank you for reading and for commenting. Finding things to be thankful for is not hard when we think about it... from a roof over our heads, to a bed to sleep in, and full tummies. :) I'm glad for you on your good news about your son's computer warranty!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      I enjoyed your hub. I totally agree with you about Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday of the year, next to Easter. Christmas is too filled with stress and anxiety. I love being with family around the table sharing food and fellowship.

      I am not consistent with focusing on gratitude. I do try to stay aware of what is going on within me and when I begin to feel angry, stressed, anxious, 'one down' and so on, I try to focus on what is right in my world and to be grateful when positive things happen, no matter how small.

      Just yesterday, my college son called to tell me his computer was still under warranty and I was grateful for that bit of news, because I had expected having to replace it.

    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Thank you Annette for sharing your beautiful account!

    • profile image

      Annette Oden 7 years ago

      Thank you! I utterly love it! :)

      Some time in the late 90's, I hosted Watoto, an orphaned children's choir from Uganda. It was "supposed" to be a one afternoon/evening event at the church I was serving at the time, but turned into a weeklong adventure that I have never completely gotten over. (thankfully)

      At some point that week, I was talking to Patience, one of the leaders of the group. Patience was a Ugandan national who was also orphaned from civil war and AIDS. That was the story of most of those children. They all called me Auntie Annette in that beautiful, lilting African accent. I was asking questions about the care and keeping of these beautiful children while we were at the skating rink.

      Yes. I took 25 Ugandan children to the skating rink. It never occurred to me before we got there that these babies had never ever skated before! lol. My 75 little baptist Americans were so great. You would have loved that day so much. One little happy-faced American kid on either side of an absolutely beaming Ugandan, teaching them to skate. Doing the hokey-pokey. I'm pretty sure that *is what it's all about. :)

      But I digress. As Patience and I talked that day she said, "Auntie Annette, I tell these children, 'thankfulness will take you a long, long way.'" I still hear her in my head, accent and all. These children, whose lives were torn apart by civil war and AIDS were *told, *often "thankfulness will take you a long, long way."

      I've lived thankful ever since. It is never far from my heart. I pray for Patience and for the children of Watoto all the time. They changed me. God in them. Beautiful and strong. \o/

    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      thank you onegoodwoman for reading my hub & leaving a comment. i have enjoyed reading your hubs and am honored you have taken time to read this. :) warmest regards~

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      Amen on the indoor plumbing.

      I can remember, as a young girl,

      when Granddad installed it in the

      house. Even then, there was no

      running hot water or shower. We

      carried hot water to the tub.

      Most of us, can use the reminder, it

      is the simple things that make life

      worth living.

    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 7 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Thank you so much, Denise. Definitely Okay, and very much appreciated. :)

      Warm regards~

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Breathe-nice to meet you. While finishing my hub about Thanksgiving gratitude I searched the word 'gratitude' to connect with other hubbers on the same track re: gratitude and journaling. I enjoyed your hub and am including it in my rss feed. I hope you don't mind. Happy Thanksgiving.