THE SHUTTLESWORTH SENTINEL
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PRACTICING THANKFULNESS EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR
My family has high standards when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. I absolutely love cooking, and, at the risk of sounding boastful, I would say I’m pretty good at it. My children grew up eating a lot of delicious meals, and, with Thanksgiving being one of the most celebrated meals of the year, they’ve come to expect a certain level of quality in all their favorite dishes. I can’t ever deviate from the standard menu, which includes turkey with roasted apples and sweet potatoes, oysters, multiple dishes involving cranberries, and many others. I’m sure most of you can relate to the gargantuan task that is creating the perfect Thanksgiving meal. That being said, no matter how highly my Thanksgiving dinners are appreciated by my wife and children, that’s not the reason for the celebration. It’s just a tasty byproduct. The real reason for Thanksgiving is, of course, remembering all we have to be thankful for. It may be intuitive (it’s a part of the holiday’s name, after all), but I think being thankful for all we have shouldn’t be restricted to just one day a year. It should be a habitual practice that permeates our daily lives. “LIKE A LOT OF POSITIVE HABITS, ACTUALLY PRACTICING GRATITUDE CAN BE DIFFICULT — BUT IT’S WORTH THE WORK.” Practicing gratitude on a daily basis can make the good days better and the bad days more bearable. Multiple scientific studies have indicated a connection between gratitude and optimism, exercising more regularly, and confidence in relationships, among other things. It’s pretty incredible how many situations can change with just a change in perspective. We can choose how we react to our daily, weekly, or yearly situations. If we
walk around thinking everything is going to hell in a handbasket, our day is naturally not going to be as good as it would be if we instead focused on positive aspects of life each day.
It’s certainly nice to think about — this idea that we can change our lives just by changing our perspective. But in practice, it’s not always easy. I’ve tried practicing gratitude regularly by keeping a running list of things to be thankful for. Sometimes, this is referred to as a gratitude journal. During times in my life where I’ve been worried or stressed, keeping a list of the positives has helped me push on through. However, when things start to take a turn for the better, I usually lose the habit of keeping that list. I wait until things get stressful again to pick it back up. Like a lot of positive habits, actually practicing gratitude can be difficult — but it’s worth the work. As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself thankful for our health. Good health is not something everybody has all the time, and neither I nor my family want to take it for granted. I’m also thankful for my wife and kids who support me and let me enjoy all the things I like to do outdoors like sailing, backpacking, and everything in between. I’m thankful they enjoy my cooking on Thanksgiving and on many other days as well. Finally, I’m thankful for a job that lets me help people, some of whom cannot find help anywhere else.
Thank you to everybody who has helped make this year wonderful.
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