Thanksgiving: Indulging in the Attitude of Gratitude
Happy Thanksgiving! Tis the season to overindulge in our favorite foods we wait all year to eat!
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie…I can already feel my waist line expanding. This year, though…I don’t want just my waist line to expand—I want my heart to expand by remembering the true meaning of Thanksgiving—the art of gratitude.
With our busy lifestyles, endless to do lists, and the challenge of living a healthy lifestyle (eating healthy foods, trying to find time to work out and spend enough time with my family), it is easy to feel overwhelmed. There are some days I can’t help but feel bad and disappointed in my lack of superwoman abilities to do it all.
When I feel bad, overwhelmed and stressed, I find it hard to make good health choices.
This is where gratitude comes in! Gratitude gives me perspective, making it a key to living a healthy lifestyle. Gratitude pulls me out of the any “stinking thinking” and helps me see what is really important. By focusing on what is truly important, I start to feel good about life, which leads me to make better health choices.
Exactly, what is gratitude?
Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.—Harvard Health Publications
Researchers have found that gratitude has potential health benefits:
- Brighter outlook on life
- Better sleep
- Stronger relationships
- Better heart health
- A stronger immune system
The attitude of gratitude is an important healthy lifestyle habit and Thanksgiving is the perfect day to start! Here are a few of our favorite family Thanksgiving gratitude traditions to get you started:
Thankful tree: When my children were younger, I would make a big tree out of paper and hang it on the patio door. I also cut out leaves from construction paper. Though out the month of November, every evening each child would right something they were thankful for and place their leaf on our “Thanksgiving” tree. By the time the actual holiday arrived, our tree was full of colorful leaves.
It’s not too late to create a thankful tree—create your tree, hang it up, cut out your leaves and as guests arrive—hand them a leaf and a pen, then have them hang their leaf on the tree.
Thanksgiving Book: Create a Thanksgiving book that grows with each passing year. Every family member creates a page of gratitude each year—it could be a drawing, a poem, or simply a list of things they are grateful for. Be sure to write the date on it and then place it in a binder. It’s fun to place the Thanksgiving book on a coffee table during the month of November to allow your family and guests to reflect on the gratitude and gifts of years past and present.
Thankful Tablecloth: Find a large plain, light colored sheet or tablecloth to use for the Thanksgiving table. Provide markers in a variety of autumn colors. At Thanksgiving dinner, have each person add his/her mark to the tablecloth. Guests might choose to write their name, draw a picture, write something they are grateful for, trace their hands, or find any way to leave a mark that says, “I was here.” Save the tablecloth and add to it each year. It’s fun to read the tablecloth at Thanksgiving dinner each year and remember Thanksgivings of years past. (Some people take the time to embroider over the writing each year after Thanksgiving, but permanent marker works just as well!)
Thankful Leaves: Place blank leaves at each place setting when you set the Thanksgiving table. As guests arrive, instruct them to take time to visit the table and write something on each person’s leaf. It might be a compliment or something they are grateful for about that person. When guests arrive at the table for dinner, they’ll be greeted by a “warm fuzzy” on their plate.
Do you have a family Thanksgiving gratitude tradition? Please leave a comment below and share with us. The Be Well South Dakota team wishes you a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving holiday.