I love Thanksgiving so much it still vies for first place in my favorite holiday lineup. I love a classic turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I love the fall weather that always accompanies the day. I love the fact that Thanksgiving ushers in the winter holidays, offering me a front-row seat to the very best time of the year.
I love all of those things. In fact, I kind of wish that every day were Thanksgiving! Gratitude is too important in our lives to be considered only briefly on the fourth Thursday of November.
Giving thanks and counting our blessings are good for us. It reminds us of the positive things in life. Gratitude shines a new light on bad things, giving us hope and determination. It reminds us how much we need one another and to express our thanks for those we love and appreciate.
Just imagine what might happen if our annual single-day tradition of giving thanks were to become a daily routine. Medical professionals suggest we might be rewarded with better health, as medical science reveals there is a potentially strong association between gratitude and good health.
And just as strong is the fact that stress can make us sick. It's linked to heart disease and cancer. Shockingly, stress is estimated to play a role in up to 90 percent of all doctor's office or primary care visits. Think about the financial costs associated with stress-related maladies. The antidote for stress is gratitude, as it calms our minds and lowers our blood pressure. With gratitude, we are able to see our circumstances in a fresh, new light.
Even in the face of the tremendous loss and tragedy we've confronted in 2020, it is possible to feel gratitude. Adversity can actually boost feelings of gratitude, which is a phenomenon that many of us experienced immediately following Sept. 11, 2001. We saw the tremendous loss in light of what we still possessed.
You don't have to wait for a tragedy to grow your feelings of gratitude. You can start today with something as simple as a gratitude journal. Some studies show that people who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis feel better about their lives as a whole, exercise more regularly, report fewer physical symptoms, and maintain greater optimism about the future.
Perhaps you're wondering what to be grateful for.
Be thankful that you don't have everything you desire. If you did, you would have nothing to look forward to.
Be thankful for the difficult people you have to work with. They are improving your patience and understanding.
Be thankful when you don't know something, because it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for difficult times, because it's in times of hardship that we grow.
Be thankful when you're exhausted at the end of a day, because you know you've accomplished something.
What do I give thanks for, privately, in my own gratitude sessions? It varies every day. I thank my readers for the encouragement they give me by reading this column. I thank my family and friends for all they do for me.
Every day, I thank God for this life he's given me. I thank people I know around the world for the things they're doing and the personal sacrifices they're making to make the world better.
Choose to be grateful today—and every day—for all that you have. Gratitude will fill your heart with contentment. And best of all? Gratitude is 100 percent free, in any amount you desire.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at "Everyday Cheapskate"!