Why You Should Celebrate Thanksgiving Every Day
Daily gratitude is a happiness booster.
Posted Nov 22, 2018
Thanksgiving is the day of gratitude, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be grateful on this day. But why limit expressing gratitude to just one day? It’s like celebrating your spouse only on your anniversary.
We should be grateful for the good things in life on a daily basis. Developing an attitude of gratitude improves your well-being dramatically — let’s celebrate Thanksgiving every day.
Gratitude is Good for You
Bad memories are easier to remember.
Negative experiences tend to be more vivid than positive ones, as shown by fMRI studies. Rewiring your brain to remember the good stuff, takes time. You have to train your orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala to acknowledge positive events — we must build a habit of creating positive memories.
Gratitude is good for you — acknowledging positive events has many benefits, according to science. A study found that regularly and deliberately recording one’s blessings improves our mental health and overall well-being.
As Charles Dickens wrote, “Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
Appreciation requires not taking everything for granted. There are three that you should be thankful for:
- The blessings and experiences in life
- The good within others
- The good within yourself
Gratitude connects you to something greater than yourself — it’s experiencing life as a surprise gift. There’s always something new to discover and be thankful for. You just have to open your mind.
Don’ approach daily gratitude as something transactional — do it to feel good, not to get something in return.
Turn Gratitude into a Habit
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” — Cynthia Ozick
Gratitude requires taking the time to pause and reflect on everything good that happened throughout your day. Keeping a gratitude journal is an increasingly popular practice.
Being appreciative starts with yourself. Most people are afraid of being happy — they can’t acknowledge their own goodness.
A gratitude journal is a simple and effective way to create positive memories — put the energy in capturing every good experience, no matter how small. Happiness is a byproduct of small victories — small wins add up creating momentum. We build a sense of greater accomplishment.
We spend our lives looking for that perfect moment — a gratitude journal will help you see happiness in what you already have or do. I recommend writing it at night. You'll finish each day with a grateful attitude — the mindset you bring into bed defines how you sleep.
Follow these steps.
1. Slow down
One hour before you go to bed, unplug yourself from TV shows, social media, emails, news, etc. The light of screens reduce the melatonin production — it confuses your body putting your sleep in jeopardy.
Sit down in a comfortable position and take 2–3 deep breaths. Feel how the air flows through your body. Reconnect with your body. Take deeper breaths and relax.
2. Set Your Worries Aside
What worries you? Continue breathing. Reconnect with your day. Remove your distractions. When we worry, we can't pay attention.
What keeps you anxious or worried? Write it down. Visualize how your worries move from your head to the paper.
3. Create Positive Memories
What should you be grateful for today? Revisit your entire day and recollect all good moments, no matter how small.
Write down everything that you should feel grateful about life, others, and yourself. The purpose is to finish your day celebrating good stuff instead of complaining about what went wrong.
You finished a project. Your boss told you how happy she was with your work, in front of the entire team. You finally finished reading that book. Your sister called to let you know she's pregnant. Your best friend is in town and invited you for dinner. Your son did the dishes before you asked him to.
Be specific. Capture the experience, not just the fact. “My wife gave me a gentle massage on my neck while I was preparing dinner for the two of us.” We remember and connect with stories.
4. Reflect & Wrap Up
A gratitude journal is a habit of recognizing the best in us, people, and life. By affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials, we acknowledge the positive in life.
Once, you captured all the good news, reflect on the day. What’s the story? Write one sentence to summarize your day using this format: “Today was awesome because…”
How you end your day shapes the way you’ll wake up the next morning. You cannot control life. But you can control the stories you tell yourself.
5. Repeat & Build
At first, you might find it hard to remember the ‘good stuff.’ That’s okay — we are wired to remember the bad things. However, in time, your brain will become better and better at creating positive memories.
Practice builds a habit. Focusing on the positive will feel more natural day after day — your list will grow longer and longer before you even notice it.
Once Thanksgiving Day is over, don’t let your sense of gratitude fade. Remember, training your brain to remember the positive requires building a daily habit.
Practice journaling to realize and remember everything that you should be thankful for — appreciate the positive in life, others, and yourself.
Celebrate Thanksgiving every day. You deserve feeling grateful and happy on a daily basis, not just once a year.