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HEALTH: Just surviving past childhood used to be a major accomplishment. Now we expect to live into our 80s or 90s. And we expect – no, we demand – to have exceptional health care all along way (even those who are afraid to go to doctor!).
This list could keep growing, but these are major benefits I am grateful for living in twenty-first century North America. What does that have to do with Thanksgiving Day and happiness?
Well, follow this train of thought. Whatever you have, you can either appreciate or not. If you appreciate it -- I mean really notice that you have it, that it is good, that you feel good about having it -- it will bring you happiness. However, if you get used to it, take it for granted, and focus on things you don't have, what you do have just won't bring you happiness.
Appreciation is key to happiness. Whatever you truly and proactively appreciate, whether "stuff" or education or a vacation, will bring you happiness. But in this fast-paced, dog-eat-dog, over-stimulated society how can we appreciate anything?
Sadly, many of us who have most to be grateful for express gratitude least and feel least appreciation. It seems more we have, more we want. The more we want, less we appreciate what we have. The less we appreciate, less value there is to having anything, which may explain why we keep wanting more.
We who are drowning in luxuries and hold world in our hands can't seem to find time to appreciate what we have ... but we still make time to whine and complain. We still find things, however petty, to feed our negative thinking. How can we learn to appreciate our abundance and live a happy life?
The secret to feeling that appreciation we often overlook is in expressing our gratitude vocally or in writing. How can we possibly fail to appreciate something when we say "Thank you" for it and focus our attention on appreciation?
I offer several ideas on how to express gratitude in "Get Happy Workbook" and my book "Climb your Stairway to Heaven: 9 habits of maximum happiness", including keeping a gratitude journal, saying grace, practicing "bolsterism", or just sending flowers, cards, or an appreciative e-mail message – to name just a few ideas. Perhaps most useful of all ideas is to make Thanksgiving Day every day.
Christmas is important. Easter is important. Halloween is important for kids. But for our own personal happiness, there is nothing like a truly heartfelt Thanksgiving.
David Leonhardt is The Happy Guy at http://thehappyguy.com , and publisher of A Daily Dose of Happiness at http://thehappyguy.com/daily-happiness-free-ezine.html . This article can also be viewed at http://thehappyguy.com/Thanksgiving-happiness.html