How and why do people express gratitude? As a Toronto-based company, October 10th, Thanksgiving Day, provides the opportunity to start exploring what it means to be grateful. Since 1957, our country has set aside the second Monday each October as “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty G-d for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”
Thanksgiving in the US has a different history. In 1863–amid a bloody Civil War–President Abraham Lincoln called for all Americans to express thanks to G-d and to “commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” Since then, Americans have celebrated the third Thursday of every November as a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise.”
While we know Thanksgiving Day as a modern holiday, giving thanks to G-d in a ritualized way goes back millennia. In biblical times, Moses instructed the Israelites to appreciate G-d’s bounty through an annual cycle of festivals. The need to give thanks is a foundational aspect of most world religions and is deeply rooted in the human psyche.
Why is Gratefulness so Important?
While Thanksgiving Day is just once a year, studies have shown that a regular “gratitude practice” enriches our lives in many ways, specifically by strengthening our connection to other people, nature, or a higher power–not to mention raising overall happiness levels.
Below are five critical areas where regularly practicing gratitude can help us create a more satisfying life.
1. Emotional Wellbeing
Thankfulness enhances self-respect, boosts confidence, improves mood, and reduces negative emotions such as envy, resentment, and frustration.
2. Mental Health
Gratitude can help us stave off depression, survive painful experiences, and improve resiliency. Remembering the positive things in our lives can help us in difficult times, from the death of a loved one to a job loss.
3. Physical Health
Scientific studies have shown that a regular gratitude practice can improve blood pressure, sleep, the immune system, pain tolerance, heart disease, and extend lifespan. The optimism of grateful people also makes them more likely to take on healthy habits, such as regular exercise.
4. Social Relationships
Grateful people tend to have better relationships with spouses, other family members, friends, and co-workers. A shared sense of gratitude can strengthen family support, foster a healthier social circle, and create a better work environment.
5. The Workplace
We all feel better when a manager or customer thanks us for good performance. Studies have shown the remarkable role of gratitude in fostering a healthy work environment where employees feel satisfied and valued:
- 70 percent of employees would feel better about themselves if their boss were more grateful, and 81 percent would work harder.
- Lack of gratitude is a major factor driving job dissatisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, and burnout.
- 53 percent of employees would stay at their company longer if they felt more appreciation from their boss.
How Can We Cultivate Change?
There is no magic to becoming a more grateful person, and it’s not something you can flip on and off with a switch. Like anything else worthwhile, it’s not always easy, takes practice, and becomes more natural over time.
Here are some helpful techniques for cultivating gratefulness in our daily lives:
- Keep a daily gratitude journal to record the reasons to be fortunate each day.
- Volunteer for organizations and events that help others.
- Focus on speaking well of people rather than engaging in harmful speech.
- Pay compliments for positive things you appreciate about those around you.
- Practice prayer or mindfulness meditation, starting with five minutes each day.
- Write, email, or call people to express thanks for their positive impact on your life.
- Call your parents, kids, or other family members more often.
- Chronicle beautiful things by taking photos [no selfies allowed here] and writing about them.
- Watch inspiring videos or listen to podcasts that remind you of human kindness.
- When times are good, notice and help others. When times are bad, focus on the friends and loved ones who support you.
- Take a moment every day to notice the beauty of nature.
Being Thankful Creates Positive Change
Building our sense of gratitude changes how we experience nearly every aspect of our lives. Thanksgiving offers the opportunity to renew our commitment to being grateful and understanding that we are just one piece of the puzzle that makes up our lives. Whether you look toward G-d, nature, or human kindness, Oct. 10th can be, as they say, “the first day of the rest of our lives.”
All of us at Elite Roofing strive to appreciate all the goodness around us– in our families, our company, and our relationships with our customers and vendors. We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of joy and love.