Opinion: “There are 135 ‘reflection days’ to Thanksgiving.”

Glenn Mangurian

July 17, 2023 by Glenn Mangurian

… and counting. You are probably asking who is thinking about Thanksgiving in July. Summer is short enough and there are still barbeques, beach days and blueberry pies to eat. If you ask people what their most loved holiday is, the common response is Thanksgiving. The important values of Thanksgiving are thankfulness, gratitude, and family.

The Wisdom of ChatGPT
If you are a regular reader of my monthly essays, you will remember that last month I interviewed the chatbot software application, ChatGPT. The last question I asked was for advice to humans on living a happy life. It’s answer:

“Cultivate gratitude. Take the time each day to appreciate and acknowledge the positive aspects of your life, no matter how big or small they may be. Gratitude helps shift your focus from what is lacking to what you have, fostering a sense of contentment and joy. Additionally, expressing gratitude to others can deepen your relationships and create a positive ripple effect. Take the time to thank and appreciate the people who contribute to your life, whether it’s through a heartfelt conversation, a handwritten note, or a small act of kindness. By spreading gratitude, you not only uplift others but also enhance your own happiness.”

Yes, I know there are many reasons to not be happy. International, national and local news put a spotlight on the negative. We have long lists of grievances – some present and others that we carry from the past. Negativity spreads much faster on social media than positivity. These are all the more reason to reflect on the positive aspects of our lives.

Positive Psychology
In Positive Psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. That’s a pretty good list. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.

People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude). Gratitude is the inexplicable feeling in your body that makes you smile at strangers. If shifting our focus to the positive can dramatically improve our happiness, why do we only allocate part of one day a year for it?

The “Five Minute Journal”
Most of you know I work hard to live a positive life each day. Some days are easier than others. For Father’s Day my daughter gave me a bound “Five Minute Journal” book. Each day (or periodically) the task is to write five things:

  • In the Morning
    • I am grateful for …
  • What would make today great?
    • Daily affirmation
  •  In the Evening
    • Highlight of the day
    • What did I learn today?

It is billed as a journal for people who don’t write journals. It is intended to be a snapshot of your positive

Food for Thought

  • How about you trying to answer the five questions at least one day this week? Why wait until
  • Was it easy answering the questions? If so, might you try it another day?
  • Share this essay with a friend, relative or colleague who could benefit from gratitude. Maybe we can
    start some “viral happiness”

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