The Thanksgiving holiday celebrated in the U.S. is almost upon us. It’s one of the few times of the year loved ones make the greatest of efforts to make the pilgrimage home. We gather around our dining tables to enjoy the company of family and friends, as well as a carefully planned and executed feast. It is also a deliberate time for reflection, where we pause to express our gratitude for many things that life has to offer.
Reflecting on what we are grateful for should not be saved for one day a year. Just as being in the company of loved-ones is beneficial for both the heart and soul, starting a gratitude journal and writing in it several times a week has proven to have tangible benefits.
A study lead by Robert Emmons, a professor at the University of California at Davis and world leader in the science of gratitude, has revealed that those who keep a gratitude journal felt better about their lives overall, are more optimistic about the future, and report fewer health problems than the other participants. Interestingly, those who keep such journals reported getting more sleep, spending less time awake before falling asleep and feeling more refreshed in the morning.* The reason this practice works, above and beyond simply taking time out to think about the positive things in our lives, is that translating thoughts into language, spoken or written, makes us more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact.
We are all deeply grateful for are our relationships with our families and loved-ones. Because time passes so quickly, the importance of documenting the stories of our parents and grandparents greatly increases as they age. Thanksgiving, when everyone is together, is a perfect opportunity to capture the stories right from the source. In fact, technology has become so simplified that it is as easy as strategically placing a smartphone on the dinner table and powering on the voice memo feature to record the stories told by family members. Likewise, using a video camera (or smartphone camera!) to record all the details is so easy, even children can help out. And the results become special keepsakes.
After you have your smartphone or video camera ready, here are 5 tips to keep in mind for the day:
Jump start the conversation: Do you know of a specific story that your Grandfather loves to tell or want to know more about his experience in the war? Ask him about it.
Keep the conversation going: Ask questions about the people involved in the story, what else was going on at that point in time?
Ask elders about their specific memories of those who have already passed away: What did they like to eat, what was the craziest thing they ever did. Get to know family members you never got the opportunity to meet.
Be prepared with a photo or memento and ask for specifics: Where was this taken, what year, why were you there, who else is in the photo? Write it down.
And most importantly, be a good audience. Sit back, listen and enjoy. Also, make sure all batteries are well charged!
Having loving family and friends is definitely at the top of most people’s gratitude lists on Thanksgiving. We’d like to take this opportunity to wish you wonderful times with yours. Happy Thanksgiving. We’re really grateful you stopped by!