Thanksgiving, like many holidays, can be a double-edged sword. One the one hand, it's an opportunity to spend some quality time with loved ones and relax a little; yet on the other hand, it can be a powerful reminder of what is missing in our lives and relationships. We are supposed to feel close to our families, but in truth many of us don't, or at least not as much as we would like. This can trigger depression, anxiety or simply too many trips to the holiday punch bowl. It strikes me as ironic that a holiday that is all about giving thanks for what we already have has become a symbol for running around frantically in the middle of the night to acquire more.
Don't get me wrong, I like a good bargain just as much as the next shopper, but I do fear the spirit of Thanksgiving might get lost in the frenzy. Plus, from my work as a therapist I know how many battle a deep sense of sadness or disconnect during the holidays. As a matter of fact, the day after Thanksgiving is turning into one of my busiest practice days ever!
So for everyone (midnight-shopping diehards included), I offer a simple and (almost) free exercise that will put both the Thanks and the Giving back into Thanksgiving and hopefully into your heart.
Buy a Thank You card and send it to a loved one acknowledging one nice thing they have done for you recently. Really go all out in expressing your gratitude. Doing this might boost your mood because research has shown that focusing on gratitude, even for a very brief time, can increase feelings of happiness.
If you don't believe me, let me share this little story. A few months ago, I put together envelopes wrapped in bright ribbons with Thank You cards and the above-written instructions inside them to give away at a Health Expo. Many were intrigued and the little packets went like hot cakes. It might have had something to do with the fact that I called them mood-boosting interventions. One woman took one home and came back an hour later to tell my associate that she had done the exercise and it had totally worked and put her in a great mood. How is that for instant gratification!
Last but not least, thank you to all of you readers who are curious enough to learn more about yourselves and the human psyche to read my blog. Your loyalty, dedication and feedback reminds me everyday that we all face similar challenges in our lives, can learn from each other and most of all, that we are all in this crazy thing called life together.
"Copyright Nadja Geipert 2011."
To learn more about other interventions created by LA Family Therapy, go to