Contrary to popular belief, the calendar does not skip directly from Halloween to Christmas.Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and although I’m one of the people who doesn’t object to Christmas music after November 1 (sorry, roommates), I also don’t want to skip over the only national holiday in the United States that is exclusively dedicated to thankfulness.
Emphasis on gratitude has been on the rise in the last few years, in more than just teaching kids to say “thank you” when you pass the pumpkin pie.
This year, in order to create space for family time and a break from commercial life, many stores including DSW, Costco, Barnes and Noble, and GameStop have decided to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day. REI went even further, announcing last week that they would also stay closed the next day—Black Friday.
Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of REI, wrote in an official statement on their website, “On November 27, we’ll be closing all 143 of our stores and paying our employees to head outside.”
Whatever you think about Black Friday or large businesses, it’s pretty clear that there are going to be a lot of happy—and grateful—REI employees on Thanksgiving weekend this year.
On a more personal level, Harvard Health Publications released an article in 2011 called “In Praise of Gratitude,” in which the author referenced research projects done to study the effect of practicing gratitude behaviors on health and happiness.
Strategies like writing thank-you notes, meditating and making lists of things we’re grateful for are all a part of this concept.
Unsurprisingly, people who focused on gratitude reported better physical health, more happiness, better relationships and higher performance at work. While there’s no way to prove cause and effect in the study, it’s clear that gratitude and well-being are linked in some way.
Some psychologists are even recommending “gratitude journals,” where people can have a defined place to practice thinking about the things that they are thankful for, as a way to promote mental health.
That sort of discipline might not be for everyone, but it certainly can’t hurt to make space for at least one day per year to think about the things that we’re grateful for.