Maybe I forgot this, or perhaps it was glossed over in my early education, but this week, I was schooled by my kindergartener about Thanksgiving.
The story, as it was reported to me, began with the arrival of the Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620.
The crew landed among a population of angry natives, disease, and all the problems that come with trying to settle in a new place.
They were introduced to a member of the Patuxet tribe named Squanto.
Squanto had been kidnapped from his land in America and taken to Spain to be sold as a slave. He landed in the hands of a group of Monks for a few years, then he made it up to London, where he learned English and was sent back to America to act as a translator.
Squanto was vital to the Pilgrims. He helped negotiate peace, set up trade, and taught them how to survive by catching eels and planting corn.
The following year, the Pilgrims’ crops were so bountiful and grateful they had a great feast alongside the Wampanoag Tribe to give thanks. This has evolved into what’s celebrated in North America as Thanksgiving.
We celebrate Thanksgiving once a year, but we could do much better for our health and wellness if we made “giving thanks” a daily practice.
We do a lot to better our lives, from what we do in the gym, to the food choices we make, to the ways we spend our money. Although, the simple practice of saying thanks can boost your well-being a ton.
A study by Emmons and McCullough asked participants to journal a few things each week using a different focus. One group wrote about things they were grateful for, the second group wrote about irritations, and the third group just wrote about their experiences that week. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about the things they were thankful for felt better and more optimistic and also happened to exercise more and see the doctor less than those who focused on the irritations (ref.)
So, this Thanksgiving (in between slices of pie), you can work on bettering your health by focusing on what you are thankful for.
If you want to dig into this more, here is a link to a helpful article by the researcher referenced above.