Giving Thanks Is Good For You

For many, Thanksgiving and the holiday season is a time to enjoy the company of family, friends, and loved ones, but while these festivities ensue a great deal of fun, it can be a very stressful time as well. If you ever needed a better time or reason to enhance your resilience, the holidays are that time and reason.  Fortunately one helpful technique to boost resilience by giving thanks and demonstrating gratitude.  That is one of the many practical and effective strategies taught in TRACOM’s Adaptive Mindset for Resilience training program.

One of the most helpful emotions to conjure up during stressful times is gratitude. When you turn your attention to things that you might take for granted, you generate happiness and positivity. Studies have shown that when we demonstrate gratitude we experience increased optimism and happiness, we have fewer negative physical symptoms, we are less likely to retaliate against criticism, we have lower aggression and greater empathy and we have an increased motivation to exercise (and who doesn’t need that around the holidays.)

So if during this precious time, you find yourself feeling like you’re ready to ring your brothers neck or you can’t stand to hear one more condescending comment from an in-law, think about the people who make your life complete. Maybe it’s your parents, your children, your siblings, your significant other, or your best friend. Bring your attention towards what makes you happy and give thanks for it.

Learn more about the Adaptive Mindset Model.

Author’s Note:  Shortly after this blog was published, TRACOM received an email from a reader that asked us to reconsider the meaning of Thanksgiving within its historical context.  Below are the comments of Richard Regan.   We appreciate his perspective.

The Truth About Thanksgiving

For American Indians/Alaska Natives, the traditional “Thanksgiving” federal government holiday is very different from the celebration drilled into my head by my elementary school teachers. It is day of grief and mourning. We see it as a holiday that took advantage of our gratefulness as our country’s first citizens and in turn were rewarded with land theft, extermination from disease, violence and near total destruction through forced assimilation.

For many Native people, Thanksgiving is a day to:
• Pray that the Creator will help people understand the reality about a holiday that does not contain one ounce of truthfulness and historical accuracy.
• Protest the commercialization of a holiday supposedly based on being thankful.
• Help those who like Native people have fallen like the homeless, the hungry, the orphan, the prisoner, the refugee and the forgotten.
• Honor the ancestors of Chief Massasoit and the Wampanoag Indians whose right hand of fellowship to a group of visitors was met with distrust and suspicion.

It is a day to appreciate the contributions of Native people to a group of settlers that absence this assistance, our country would not be the shining light on a hill for the entire world to see.  The fact of the matter is Native people died so this country could flourish. They are still dying for this land since they serve in the military at higher per capita rates than any racial group.

If you want to be thankful during this season of thanks, thank the Native forefathers and foremothers who are responsible for the true message of Thanksgiving. “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.”

It is with this spirit of generosity and charity that we should place your understanding for a true and honest “Thanksgiving.”