The Joy of Being Grateful

Laura Stallard Petza
November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving, as hard as it is to believe, is now just a couple of days away, and the time seems right, on the cusp of this season of feasting and family, to take stock of all the abundance in our lives. Whether you count your blessings, thank your lucky stars, or just ruminate on how fortunate you are, there are plenty of good reasons to acknowledge your gratitude, not the least of which is that grateful people, studies show, claim to be happier and healthier than people who are incapable of ever seeing a silver lining.

Skeptical about his correlation between gratitude and happiness? Well, then, how about a little proof: Researchers at UC Davis, when studying the implications of thankfulness, found that people who kept gratitude journals—that is, simple written records of why they were grateful—described lives that were richer and more fulfilling than did people who failed to keep the journals. Interesting stuff, even for us die-hard cynics. And really, what's the harm in being grateful, in pausing just long enough from our glass-half-empty thinking to admire the many treasures in our lives?  Because even in the midst of the toughest times—and times, as we all know, can get pretty tough—there are so many reasons to be thankful.

But you don't need us or researchers from UC Davis to tell you why you should be thankful; you know why you're thankful, and surely now, before the holidays hit and you're overwhelmed by the demands of cooking and shopping and socializing, is as good a time as any to reflect on your gratitude.  Go ahead—make a list of some of the stuff, big and small, that makes you glad to be alive. Is it the smell of your child's shampoo on her pillow? An early morning snowfall? A cup of hot coffee in your quiet kitchen, before anyone else is up? Whatever makes you happy, whatever makes you sigh and say, "yes," is worthy of a place on your list. And while it's nice to get it all down on paper, you don't necessarily have to. If all you can muster is a mental list, so be it; the important thing is to make the list, one way or another, and to keep track, in spite of your fears, in spite of your worries, of your many, many fortunes.

Sure, parenting may still be difficult, and sure, the holidays can be a time of stress, but stop fretting. Stop biting your fingernails. And be thankful—so incredibly thankful—for everything you've got. 

From the Parents

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