The Importance of Gratitude
Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday as it serves as a reminder of the importance of gratitude.
Since 1621, our ancestors in the United States have been celebrating Thanksgiving. Historically, throughout Europe, festivals were held after the harvest to give thanks and celebrate together as a community. Native Americans also celebrated the harvest season.
We continue the tradition today nearly 400 years later, but for most of us, when we hear the word Thanksgiving, we usually think of turkey and stuffing, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, football and gatherings with family and friends.
We all know that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but yet many times in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we forget the importance of gratitude, not just on Thanksgiving, but every other day as well.
It’s not surprising that the most successful and happiest people on the planet are also the ones who practice gratitude on a regular basis. However, what might give one pause, is that the most grateful people are also the most successful and the happiest.
Research has also demonstrated that those who have an ongoing tendency to be grateful experience better physical and psychological health and well being. They tend to be more optimistic, sociable, and engaged in life. They are less susceptible to depression, anxiety, anger, and others negative emotions that can lead to health damaging behaviors and functioning. In other words, being grateful is good for your health.
Gratitude is also one of the trickiest concepts to teach toddlers but it is also one of the most important. Sure, thankful children are more polite and pleasant to be around, but there’s more to it than that. By learning gratitude, they become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills along the way. Grateful kids look outside their one-person universe and understand that their parents and other people do things for them like prepare dinner, give hugs and buy toys. On the flip side, kids who aren’t taught to be grateful end up feeling entitled and perpetually disappointed.
Having a yearly date set aside to be thankful is a reminder for both adults and children that being grateful everyday matters for physical and mental health and well being. While we might not get to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast every day, there’s no reason why we can’t take the time to acknowledge the many things in our lives for which we are grateful; teaching our kids the same thing along the way. Giving thanks shouldn’t be a habit you toss away with Turkey Day leftovers. Make it a point to appreciate everything you have, no matter how small, and you’ll be amazed by how much better your life will become.