What is the Meaning in Your Thanksgiving?

Are you fortunate enough to have good food and enjoyable gatherings with loved ones as central ingredients in your holiday season? If so, I hope that you’ll take some special moments to celebration a deeper expression of Thanksgiving… expressing gratitude for the abundance in your life.

Research findings reported in Born To Be Good by Dacher Keltner, indicate that for those who have few financial resources, money does create happiness. “Material gain allows individuals …. to avoid the innumerable problems associated with economic deprivation, including depression, anxiety, compromised resistance to disease, and higher mortality rates.”  However, if your basic material needs are being met, it is the “quality of our romantic bonds, the health of our families, the time we spend with good friends, the connections we feel to communities that create meaning and happiness in our lives.”

The holiday season is a perfect time to remember what does give you meaning and happiness. Here are some ideas you might incorporate into your thanksgiving during this season and throughout the year.

  • Make a toast at your holiday table, acknowledging the people there for what each of them adds to your life. You might also include a remembrance for those who are no longer with you that have made a mark on your life.
  • Make a phone call or write a letter to someone who has touched you and share a memory that has stayed with you, that changed your life in some meaningful or important way.
  • Start a new ritual to reflect daily on the positive experiences that have come into your life. Acknowledge the joyful moments. Express thanks for the people who have helped you. Recognize when you have been able to contribute your unique skills or gifts to others. And yes, acknowledge yourself for the ability to navigate difficult situations that have taught you endurance and courage.

My husband and I have found daily expressions of gratitude to be a deeply enriching practice. We each light a candle each night before we begin our dinner meal and share our gratitudes with each other. Some days we reflect on the birds humorously bathing in the bird bath or the incredible weather or sunset out our back door. Other days we recall the people we’ve worked with who have enriched our lives. We give thanks that at 58 and 66 we have healthy bodies and can enjoy a good run every few days. We often give thanks for the incredibly dedicated caregivers who allow my 98 year-old mother-in-law to experience quality in her life. This practice also gives us a way to regularly acknowledge the love and support that we receive from one another.

Make a choice to create meaningful, happy moments to your life with your own thanksgiving!

Finally, I thank each of you for enriching my life. I give thanks for having the opportunity to work and collaborate with so many of you who are committed to living meaningful lives that make a difference in the world!

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