Thanksgiving is in November and it is the time of year to give thanks. Unfortunately, our world is experiencing major traumas with hurricanes, floods, fires, and mass shootings. How can we be thankful with all this death and destruction? We are also experiencing more common and vocal hatred and prejudice be it race, religion, and sex. This behavior is manifesting itself publicly from the top down and we are being bombarded by it in the news every day. I have friends that cannot watch or listen to the news because of all the negativity and hatred that is being expressed. I, on the other hand, want to hear it, so that maybe I can understand the behavior. It appears that we are reverting back to the 1930’s as a prejudicial society. What can be done?
Despite the highest standard of living in the history of humanity, our generation seems driven by an insatiable desire for more, better and faster. Just when we should feel most satisfied, we find ourselves bored and disillusioned. The problem is not that things are so bad, but that we have lost a gift called gratitude. Even though we may stuff ourselves at the dinner table on Thanksgiving, celebrating Thanksgiving and being thankful can actually make us healthier. Recent research has shown that being thankful improves our physical and emotional health. Holding on to feelings of thankfulness boosts our immune system and increases blood supply to our heart. Daily guided exercises of giving thanks or the habit of keeping a weekly gratitude journal can increase our alertness, enthusiasm, and energy, and improve our sleep. People who describe themselves as feeling grateful tend to suffer less stress and depression than the rest of the population. Cultivating a spirit of thankfulness honors and strengthens our relationships with other people. We can’t be in a right relationship with anyone without a spirit of thankfulness.
Being thankful or gratitude also serves to reinforce future behavior in benefactors. For example, one experiment found that customers of a jewelry store who were called and thanked showed a subsequent 70 percent increase in purchases. In comparison, customers who were called and told about a sale showed only a 30 percent increase in purchases, and customers who were not called at all did not show an increase (Carey, J. R., et.al., 1976). In another study, regular patrons of a restaurant gave bigger tips when servers wrote "Thank you" on their checks (Rind, B., & Bordia, P., 1995).