We don’t have many formal Thanksgiving traditions in the Hebda household. The holiday is pretty standard for us. I love cooking with my mom, watching football with my brothers and my dad and simply spending time with my family. One very basic tradition we do have, however, is one where each of us says something we’re grateful for when we sit down to eat.
Each reflection is usually preceded by a horrible, corny joke. This tradition is obviously nothing original or unique, but it reminds me why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For how much I have to be thankful for, I rarely actually express that gratitude. Thanksgiving may be over, but the holiday is always a good reminder to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. Obviously, showing gratitude is a nice gesture to those we’re grateful for, but it also is an easy way to improve our lives and relationships.
Research shows grateful people are happier and more likely to maintain strong relationships with others. Expressing gratitude reduces stress and energizes us, instead of allowing negative energy to overwhelm our system. Even just saying thank you helps us build trust with those around us.
It’s simple to acknowledge someone who holds the door open for you or a friend who helped you with homework. These simple acknowledgements make a difference, but do we ever really take the time to thank our family, friends, professors, classmates or the people who have deeply impacted our lives? This takes more thought and care.
Regardless of what we’re going through, there will always be things we should be grateful for. Human nature says we think about negative events more than positive events. Thanksgiving helps break this natural tendency. Taking even just a few seconds to appreciate one of your friends, or the snow on the Dome or an above-average meal at the dining hall will improve your mood, at least a little bit. And it’s really easy to do this, all we have to do is remind ourselves.
This is why Thanksgiving is an amazing holiday. Every November, it provides an opportunity for me to step outside of my little bubble and appreciate everything and everyone around me. My family actually forces me to reflect on my life — sandwiched between those horrible jokes — at the dinner table.
Negative feelings will never go away. People will forever be, at times, anxious, jealous, stressed, irritated and tired, among other things. These emotions shouldn’t be ignored, but we can’t let it consume us. While we should always strive to improve our lives and the lives of those around us, we only have the life we’re given, and it would be foolish to not regularly appreciate the good things we do have.
So, I know this column is coming a little late, but there is never a bad time to express your gratitude and say “thank you” to those who have made a positive impact. Thank your friends for having your back and lending a shoulder to cry on. Thank your family for their love and support, as you grew up and now. Thank your classmates and your professors for helping you through this semester and thank them in a few weeks as finals come to a close. Don’t be afraid to express gratitude. It’s important, now more than ever as the semester ends, to be a source of happiness and let others know that they are too.
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The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.