November is a month dedicated to “being thankful.”
As the poet writes:
No ghosts or goblins and trick-or-treats,
No candy or flowers for your sweets,
No gifts to buy or presents to give,
Just be THANKFUL for the life that you live.
(By Mandy Cidlik)
As part of a ritual observed by many families in the USA, everyone gathers around a table of mouth-watering cuisine and shares words of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a great thing to do.
But I must confess…
In those trying years, I would find a way to avoid these occasions. I would find an excuse like I needed to wash my hands to skip my turn at uttering grateful words. During those years, the Thanksgiving gathering was stressful. The bitterness filled me as I witnessed others’ blessings and was preoccupied with my struggles.
Silently, I cried out to God, “It’s not fair!”
I Must Alter my Bad Attitude
One day, I ran across an article that stated that writing in a gratitude journal served as a powerful antidepressant.
So, I did.
On the first page of my gratitude journal, I reflected on my first Thanksgiving in the US.
The First Thanksgiving Feast of My Life
In the first semester of graduate school, I stayed in the dormitory and strived to overcome my culture shock. My roommate Lisa sensed my homesickness and invited me to join her family on Thanksgiving Day. I accepted her offer with reluctance, afraid of the language barrier.
We left early in the morning and drove for a few hours. We arrived at a farmhouse hundreds of miles outside of Dallas right before noon. The gathering was much larger than I expected. Besides Lisa’s parents and siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, at least 60 extended family members were there representing multiple generations.
Following a warm welcome, I was surrounded by a relaxing and festive atmosphere—a home filled with waves of laughter and joyful chatting. Many men wore cowboy hats and boots with massive buckles, as in John Wayne movies. Women moved in and out of the kitchen.
I was in awe!
As a foreigner, I was intimidated by the crowd initially, but their hospitality and warmth made my initial uneasiness melt away.
Around 4 p.m., countless dishes magically appeared on the big dining table.
I had the first Thanksgiving feast of my life!
Six Simple Steps to Sustain Grateful Spirits beyond Thanksgiving
In a recent article published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, https://rdcu.be/cBi1x,researchers showed the healing power of gratitude. Doing a 6-week daily gratitude exercise provides lasting effects for mental health, overall wellbeing, and life satisfaction. Being grateful serves as a resource to navigate through life’s ups and downs.
The six exercises are:
(Check out Table 2 of this article for detailed descriptions of daily exercises.)
- Writing in a gratitude diary, describing an event and the reason for being grateful
- Looking at life experiences from another perspective, seeing things from various angles
- Expressing gratitude verbally or in writing
- Appreciating the good things in life; reflecting on pleasant memories in a gratitude journal
- Finding positive changes in a challenging life event or in negative encounters
- Cultivating a gratitude attitude intentionally at the moment of awakening in the morning and appreciating the little things throughout the day
I have found some Gratitude Apps, another handy option to keep up the Gratitude mindset with the digital platform.
My Favorite Thanksgiving Bible Verses
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
- “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34)
I wish you and your loved ones a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving!
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About the author: Dr. Eichin Chang-Lim has earned her Doctorate in Optometry, a Master of Science in Microbiology, and a Master of Arts in Psychology. She is an award-winning multi-genre author. You can check out her books at Amazon. (bit.ly/Eichinchanglim_Amazon)
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