Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

In recent years, there have been countless articles, books, and research papers that outline the benefits of expressing one’s gratitude. The merits of “practicing gratitude” are hard to ignore– studies show that people who regularly give thanks are happier, and more specifically that teens who are giving are also, “happier and more active, involved, excited, and engaged than their less giving counterparts.” Showing kindness towards others not only helps the beneficiary, but also helps us to be happier, healthier, and live longer lives. It seems only appropriate that Thanksgiving, a holiday which, in addition to centering around large amounts of delicious foods, actually began as a day for giving thanks, is a time to express gratitude. But how does one incite authentic feelings of gratitude? How do you encourage all the members of your Thanksgiving table– the begrudging teenager or scoffing relative who laughs and suggests you all just sing kumbaya instead, or even ourselves to genuinely give thanks?

It’s true, asking people to express their gratitude on the spot can be uncomfortable, and forcing ourselves to feel extra moved on a particular day can leave even the most grateful of us feeling shallow. The Greater Good Science Center addresses this very issue in their recent article, The Trouble with Thanksgiving Gratitude. In the article, author Kira Newman provides four strategies that might help people “—even the inarticulate, the shy, the grumpy, and the alienated” more comfortably express their thanks on Thanksgiving:

  1. Give people a chance to think before they thank
  2. Ask guests to imagine themselves alone at the table
  3. Write letters to each other
  4. After dinner, take a walk—then give thanks over dessert

Check out Newman’s article to read about each strategy in detail, and, if you are so motivated, maybe implement one at your own Thanksgiving feast. No matter what you do, we at Wow wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and know, that whether we express it over pumpkin pie or not, we are extremely grateful for all of our participants, nonprofits, and community.

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