“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally “count our blessings,” give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.” – Shakti Gawain
Thanksgiving is the most important holiday of the year. Oh, sure, Christmas is grand, and I know it has many, many fans. I’m not knocking Christmas, but The Thanksgiving story is more important. And Easter has its fans, too. Rebirth is a wonderful thing, but I still say Thanksgiving is more important. Yes, kids jump for joy at the thought of Halloween. I am sure they enjoy the costumes almost as much as overdose on sugar and chocolate, but the Thanksgiving story is even more important. Why?
Because the two most important words in the English language are “Thank You” – the ultimate in positive thinking. This is true for business success, for social pleasure, even for self-actualization.
For business success, a thank you tells a prospect or partner that you are appreciative of what she has just done and that you are happy with them. It shows you have a genuine interest in that person and the business relationship.
For social interaction, expressing gratitude is equally important to show how you value the other person and the social relationship you have with him. Thank you is a bonding phrase. But giving thanks is most important on a personal level for our own pursuit of happiness. This is true for anybody who has ever lived, but it is even more true for us today.
Make Every Day Thanksgiving Day
This list could keep growing, but these are the major benefits I am grateful for living in twenty-first century North America. What does that have to do with Thanksgiving Day and happiness?
Well, follow this train of thought. Whatever you have, you can either appreciate or not. If you appreciate it — I mean really notice that you have it, that it is good, that you feel good about having it — it will bring you happiness. However, if you get used to it, take it for granted, and focus on things you don’t have, what you do have just won’t bring you happiness.
Appreciation is the key to happiness. And daily appreciation is the key to daily happiness. Whatever you truly and proactively appreciate, whether “stuff” or education or a vacation, will bring you joy. But in this fast-paced, dog-eat-dog, over-stimulated society, how can we appreciate anything?
Sadly, many of us who have the most to be grateful for express gratitude the least and feel the least appreciation. It seems the more we have, the more we want. The more we want, the less we appreciate what we have. The less we appreciate, the less value there is to having anything, which may explain why we keep wanting more.
We who are drowning in luxuries and hold the world in our hands can’t seem to find the time to appreciate what we have … but we still make time to whine and complain. We still find things, however petty, to feed our negative thinking. How can we learn to appreciate our abundance and live a happy life?
The secret to feeling the appreciation we often overlook is in expressing our gratitude vocally or in writing. How can we possibly fail to appreciate something when we say “Thank you” for it and focus our attention on the appreciation?
I offer several ideas on how to express gratitude in the Get Happy Workbook and my self-help book Climb your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness, including keeping a gratitude journal, saying grace, practicing “bolsterism”, or just sending flowers, cards, or a thankful e-mail message – to name just a few ideas. Perhaps the most useful of all ideas is to make Thanksgiving Day every day – and really feel the gratitude.
Christmas is important. Easter is important too. Halloween is important for the kids. But for our own personal happiness, there is nothing like a truly heartfelt Thanksgiving.
About the Author
David Leonhardt is author of a self-help happiness book. He also runs a Liquid Vitamins Store and serves as a SEO/SEM website marketing consultant.