There are some special days or holidays on the calendar that are “come as you are,” but that’s not the way it is with Thanksgiving. Marking George Washington’s birthday doesn’t require going out and getting a ceremonial cherry tree to chop down, or laying in provisions of wooden teeth for everyone. Labor Day presents itself as a day to celebrate the importance of work and workers—but it doesn’t require special clothes or a unique menu of foodstuffs to enjoy. These are holidays that don’t require a whole lot of preparation.
This is not the case with Thanksgiving. We are on the cusp of a holiday that commands our full attention—and in turn, brings out the best in us.
Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, and gratitude—as a value or a characteristic of our approach to the world—has been shown to have a positive influence on just about anything it touches. Gratitude brings out strong emotional feelings; it makes us feel good. It has been shown to help build emotional resilience and to reduce tension and stress.
Gratitude is a great agent in our social lives: it helps us develop relationships, enables us to deepen relationships, and engenders kindness in our responses to the world, even to those we don’t yet know. When we express or receive gratitude, there are actually measurable physical benefits—such as improved sleep habits, more energy, and a greater resistance to illness.
In the workplace, gratitude is seen as a factor in good management practices, team building, setting and achieving goals, good decision-making, and even increased productivity.
We will talk about Thanksgiving in the column next week. But this week we are thinking about getting ready for Thanksgiving, which takes a certain attitude adjustment. It’s THANKS-giving, after all. The benefits of this particular holiday have already begun.
I’m thankful to be the recipient of some of this groundswell of gratitude. I hope I’m contributing to it myself. I see how it impacts our work and the world around us. And I’m grateful.