Celebrating “Thanksgiving” All Year

It’s here! Thanksgiving, a major holiday in the United States! It might mean eating a lot, gathering with loved ones, and perhaps preparing for an often hectic holiday season. But what does it really mean to be thankful?

For many, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with those we love, and simply put, to be thankful for what we have.

The “what” is not just limited to “things.” We are entering a time of year when there is abundance of things. What about the less tangible but equally important aspects of life? Perhaps this means our health, job or financial security, or the blessing of living in a peaceful society. When we stop to think about it, many of us can find an abundance of things for which we are thankful!

That said, it is all too easy to focus on what is not going well. This holiday season, let’s challenge each other to break this trend. Be the person who focuses on what is going well or right. Negativity may be contagious, but so is positivity! Your example can change those around you.

A powerful way to get into the habit of focusing on what is going right is through a gratitude journal. Research has shown that regularly taking time to reflect on what we are thankful for can increase our own happiness.

Why practice gratitude journaling? Consistently focusing on what is going well can lead to better relationships and strengthen one’s resilience, the ability to recover when something does go wrong. Moreover, gratitude journaling has been associated with reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It may improve self-esteem. And there is evidence of physical benefits—an improved immune system, better sleep and even improvements in chronic pain.

With practice, it becomes second nature to focus on the positive.

Start with just a few moments each week to focus on things for which you are thankful. Like every new practice, it may feel strange at first.  Writing down thoughts of gratitude can result in a powerful reference book that can be a great source of strength to read when we are faced with adversity.

It is true that there is pain all around us. There are times when it is right to mourn, right to focus on our pain and darkness. But there is joy everywhere too.  It is so easy to let the joy be overshadowed by the negativity and pain. This season, if we begin to challenge ourselves to practice appreciating the good, it may be easier to see the light, even if faint, when we are faced with the darkness.

This Thanksgiving, Westminster Canterbury Richmond wishes you and your loved ones a season of meaningful joy and peace!

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