Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. There’s not the pressure of finding the “perfect” gifts, shopping mall madness, the trimmings and trappings…wait! I’m sounding like the Grinch! I DO love Christmas, it’s just that it can be a bit more stressful. I have to admit that I’m not hosting the Thanksgiving meal, so I don’t bear that stress on Thanksgiving…and I’m thankful for that! What I want to highlight is how savoring Thanksgiving is a key to enjoying it. In fact, Thanksgiving has three key ingredients that all can boost our happiness.
- Gratitude – Of course, the main theme of Thanksgiving is gratitude. We are mindful as we appreciate the food we have, the family and friends we are with, and the other positive aspects of life that we too often take for granted. Research consistently shows that being grateful improves our well-being.
- Relationships – What matters most in life? Well, if we were to create a list, our relationships would be at the top of it. By some estimates, a whopping 70% of our happiness comes from our relationships. To the extent that we feel connected with others, we feel happy. When we feel disconnected, isolated, ostracized, or are in conflict, we tend to be fairly unhappy. Thanksgiving typically allows us the opportunity to spend a lot of time with family and friends.
- Savoring – Savoring has also been found to improve our well-being. Often when we eat, we are just shoveling the food into our mouths and not truly savoring it. On Thanksgiving, we usually eat foods that we only have once per year – turkey and stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, that special casserole, and so on. Plus, there is the build-up to the meal that has our mouths watering in eager anticipation. Since the Thanksgiving dinner is the centerpiece to the holiday, we are encouraged to try everything, eat slowly, and relish the variety of dishes.
Thanksgiving is a truly wonderful holiday that allows us all the opportunity to slow down, spend time quality time with one another, be thankful for what we have, and savor the wonderful food we have the good fortune to be eating. With so many positives bundled into one holiday, we should all be thankful that we have a Thanksgiving! Perhaps most importantly, the lessons of Thanksgiving don’t have to be saved just for one day per year. We will all be better off if we bring a little Thanksgiving into every day.