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Faith, Hope, Love and Gratitude

Do you have the four qualities that determine the mindset of a survivor?

Resilience is defined in psychology as the capacity to cope with stress, traumatic events and adversity. There has been a tremendous amount of research on this subject with respect to Hurricane Katrina, the Tsunami, Haitian earthquake and Chilean miners in terms of predicting who would thrive and who would struggle after these horrendous disasters.

My own experience when dealing with Hurricane Katrina/Rita victims leads me to realize that you can’t predict the psychological survivors or psychological victims based on education, wealth, intelligence or material success in life. More interestingly, I found that survivors shared the following non-quantifiable to traits:

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Faith: A belief in Something Bigger, whether it was God, family, a higher power or a cause that they believed in. 

Hope: A belief that no matter how bleak things are at the present, they had an optimism that it would get better.

Love: Whether it was an individual, family or group, feelings of love toward and from others.

Gratitude: Being thankful for the things they had rather than wishing or complaining about the problems they faced. 

So what does this have to do with Thanksgiving? Quite simply: You don’t have to survive a hurricane or a personal tragedy to incorporate these simple things into your everyday life. These characteristics that define one who can handle adversity are the very same characteristics that will define who will have a happy, healthy and productive life. 

So this Thanksgiving when you feel the need to reflect on the hard economic times, the high unemployment rate and all the problems we are sharing, stop. Turn your attention instead to what you have faith in, who you love, who loves you, and your hopes for the future. Most importantly, take the time to acknowledge with gratitude all the good things you have in your life.

Those simple steps will help make this the best Holiday season ever.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dale Archer, M.D., is a clinical psychiatrist and author of The New York Times bestseller, Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional.

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