26
Nov
08

Thanksgiving

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I know that the world feels a little scary right now, particularly because of the economic downturn that the newspapers and TV reports are screaming about from every turn.  And it’s also true that for many of us, the start of the holiday season can come with its own big box of stresses, even if it does come with a pretty red ribbon bow on it; being in close quarters with family members that we spend very little time with the rest of the year, cringe worthy office parties, too much alcohol flowing, and of course the food. Food, food everywhere, with exhortations to “eat, eat” from every aunt and grandmother that worries we’ve supposedly gotten too skinny.  But it can also be a chance to release our selves from the overwhelming ‘reality’ of our lives for just a few days, and embrace a childlike hope and appreciation for the magical things in life 🙂

Now I could just give you diet strategies for dealing with the Turkey, mounds of cream-laden mashed potatoes, pies, desserts and giant tubs of chocolate candy temptations. But honestly: if you want that information then there’s a hundred other blogs, magazine articles (Shape, Self, Glamour, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Fitness etc) that are brimming over with smart ideas that you can use over the holiday season IF you want to.

Over here in the USA the festive season kicks off tomorrow with Thanksgiving Day; a holiday that whatever its history, has to me at least, come to represent the best elements of what a festive celebration should be. It’s not about extravagant gift giving or receiving, but just about spending time with family and close friends, and expressing gratitude for the good things we have in our lives.

We’re all on our own journeys, and we all have ideas, some similar, others dramatically different, on what we think will make us happy.  I’m a huge proponent of the school of thought known as Positive Psychology, which is basically the scientific research and study behind exactly what it is that makes us happy.  Amazingly it has relatively little to do with how much money you make, or how intelligent or beautiful you are to others.  Far far higher on the scale are things like supportive loving relationships (be they family, friends or romantic), good coping strategies for the bad stuff that is sometimes a part of every life, the ability and focus to commit to pursuing goals in our lives, and yes GRATITUDE.

Here are three scientifically proven ways that gratitude can improve our sense of wellbeing, the how’s and why’s of which are discussed in ‘THANKS!’ (The image I’ve used today is a book on this exact subject by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D.  It can be ordered on Amazon if you’re interested in reading further).

* People who regularly practice grateful thinking can increase their “set-point” for happiness (basically the level at which they are at most often) by as much as 25%.

*These increases can be sustained over a period of months: which challenges the perception that our “set-point” for happiness is predetermined and frozen at birth.

*Keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks can result in better sleep and more energy.

Now you may be reading this and rolling your eyes, because you’ve got some really serious problems going on in your life right now.  I respect that and I’m not trying to say that this is a magic wand that will wipe away all your problems. But this is also not just some happy-clappy, granola hearsay; this is work that has been done by internationally respected scientists.   So perhaps it’s worth a try.  All a gratitude journal has to be is writing three little things that you can think of each day that you’re grateful for.  Yes they can be big things; I am incredibly grateful to have Lacey in my life for example and that her family have welcomed me into their home this and past Thanksgivings. I’m English and we don’t have it in my country 🙂  But I’m also grateful that there wasn’t a long line in Starbucks this morning, because that winds me up and throws off my schedule!!

I find it a calming thing to do, and it really helps me focus on the fact that while these are stressful times, there are a lot of good things, little and large, that happen everyday that I might just not notice if I wasn’t looking out for them.

Wherever you are in the world, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I wish you a happy and peaceful day tomorrow, and I am grateful that you took the time to read this posting 🙂  !!

 

 

 

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8 Responses to “Thanksgiving”


  1. 1 stan
    November 26, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks Jessica – You Rock. This reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and her happiest moment of the day journal where each day she writes down one moment she was really happy. I did that for a bit and it was interesting, the happiest moments would be as simple as feeling the warmth of a cup of tea on a cold day as you look out your large windows into the blueness and your mind wanders to wherever it goes – just those moments where there is this calmness and stillness in which you can appreciate/absorb the beauty of life. Where are that ‘stuff’ inside of you suddenly feels tangible, you can touch it.

    And, today, i’m thankful there are people like you and lacey who are putting such positive healthy energy out in the world. Thank you.

  2. 2 Rebecca
    November 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Jessica,

    I am thankful to you and Lacey for guiding me and others the right path to a healthy lifestyle. Besides you girls are so entertaining.

    “Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more;
    Love more, and all good things will be yours”

    Happy Holidays!

  3. November 26, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    May YOU all have the best HOLIDAY EVER! Happy THANKSGIVING Everyone! 🙂 xx

  4. 4 Esmeralda
    November 27, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Thank you for this blog!!!I hope that everyone has a great day and that you spend it with those you love and those who love you…and thank you for your email Jessica, and thanks to Lacey for forwarding you my intial email its been very helpful…best wishes and lots of love to you..

  5. 5 Stephania
    November 29, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I am thankful to have found this blog, and I am also thankful to have made a big decision: taking a six months breaks from my studies to take care of myself… I really need it, physically and spiritually.
    I wish you all the best, and thank Lacey and you for being this positive energizer!

  6. 6 HB
    November 29, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    You are both just pure joy! Great stuff. I am in recovery and many of your topics somehow relate to that. Gratitude is a very important part of staying sober. I keep a gratitude journal and every night I easily find 5 things to be grateful for- big and small. I certainly don’t take things for granted like I used to.
    Now if I could just find the motivation to make a COMMITTMENT to a healthier lifestyle I’ll really be on my way 🙂
    Anyway, I love your posts- you will be on my gratitude list tonight most definitely!

  7. 7 Me
    December 1, 2008 at 12:13 am

    I believe it. It is a bona fide fact that happy people live longer. Cortisol is hard on our bodies!

  8. 8 Alena
    August 24, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Those were the same demons that were haunting me. And because I was too much of a coward to fight them dead, I lost the woman that meant so much to me. So now, in addition to all the demons I refused to confront, I’m lonely, sad and without the love of my life that I truly cherished. So ladies and gents please take this serious. If you don’t, you’ll end up in my boat having to say good bye to the woman you love.


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