I love Thanksgiving so much it vies for first place in my favorite holiday lineup. I love and adore a classic Turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I love the fall weather that always accompanies the day. I love that Thanksgiving ushers in the winter holidays, offering me a front-row seat at the 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 briefly on the fourth Thursday of November.
This has been another challenging year. The coronavirus, while waning, has turned our lives upside down. The political climate and global unrest have turned our world upside down. My heart breaks for those of you who have lost a loved one, a friend, a colleague. I know that many of you are struggling under unbearable financial stress due to inflation, a layoff, reduced hours or lost clients.
Even in the face of such heartache, challenge and uncertainty, I am more convinced than ever that giving thanks and counting our blessings is good for us. It reminds us of the positive things in life. Gratitude turns bad things into good things, takes our eyes off ourselves and reminds us to thank others.
Just imagine what might happen if our annual single-day tradition of giving thanks were to become a daily routine. Health professionals suggest we would be rewarded with better health, as medical science reveals more about the strong connection 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 responsible for up to 90% of all doctor visits. Just 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. Then, we are able to see our circumstances in a fresh, new light.
Even in the face of tremendous loss or tragedy, it’s possible to feel gratitude. Adversity can boost feelings of gratitude, a phenomenon many of us have experienced the tremendous loss of this year, in light of what we still possess.
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. Research shows that people who keep gratitude journals every week 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 things you don’t want that you didn’t get that might well have interrupted your life in ways it’s difficult to comprehend.
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 allows you to learn.
Be thankful for difficult times because it’s in times of hardship that you 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 gratitude sessions? It varies every day. I thank my readers for their encouragement in 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 for the things they’re doing out of personal sacrifice to improve the world.
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% free, in any amount you desire.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Everyday Cheapskate!
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, ”Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”