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Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in the United States. This day marks the arrival of the pilgrims on the Mayflower. The 1621 harvest feast was known as the first thanksgiving. Fascinatingly, these pilgrims were English puritans who wanted to break away from the Church of England. The area was originally inhabited by Native Americans. An epidemic, a few years prior, had wiped out the population. The pilgrims allegedly robbed corn and other supplies from Native American storehouses out of desperation to survive the winter. Their agreement led to the first thanksgiving feast. 250 years later, President Lincoln, declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. He saw this as a way of giving thanks and healing the wounds of the civil war. While this is a beautiful sentiment, it is equally important to remember the tensions between these two groups. After all, many people were slaughtered as a consequence.
What does gratitude mean to you? Gratitude is why my family and I celebrate thanksgiving! My mum grew up outside of Michigan, and values keeping up this tradition with her family in the United States. Gratitude helps us take stock of what we do have, what we value and what we share. I’ve found that it helps us maintain perspective/offers new perspective. On this day, most people look at the world through a more altruistic lens. They think of those who are less fortunate or those in their community that need a little extra love.
Thanksgiving makes us more conscientious about gratitude and expressing our gratitude. Whether it’s giving thanks while eating a delicious home cooked meal or sharing happy memories/things to be grateful for, thanksgiving is a wonderful day of coming together. It allows families to gather, friends to reconnect and thousands of hardworking men and women rest. It allows a space for reflection, introspection and camaraderieship. When reflecting upon this national holiday, I wanted to share a few ways to practice gratitude in our everyday lives. Expressing gratitude is scientifically proven to provide sustained happiness and to increase daily joy. Positive psychology is a field that was first discovered and founded by Martin Seligman. You can read more about him and his research here.
I greatly enjoyed Seligman’s Positive Psychology Foundation course on Coursera through UPenn. After taking this course, I learned about a few new ways to practice gratitude which I will share here in my list below: