The Thanksgiving holiday represents a celebration of gratitude in many different ways. Originally a celebration by the Pilgrims of their first harvest in the New World, the traditional Thanksgiving meal represents a rejoicing for bountiful crops, family and friends with whom to share a feast, and recognition of the abundance in our lives. 

Although we may look forward to giving thanks over our turkey dinner and pumpkin pie every November, the benefit of practicing gratitude can be with us every day, all year long. It can be as formal as keeping a gratitude journal, intentionally recording the good in our lives before we go to sleep at night. It can be part of our spiritual practice, sending up prayers of thanks to the God of our understanding. It can be the practice of emailing or texting different people we meet, recognizing them for the help or support they have offered to us. 

It has long been observed that grateful people are happier people; that intentionally counting the blessings in our lives elevates our mood, helps us to focus on the positive, and aids us in our defense against things like anxiety and depression. But how does gratitude work? And why does it work in this way? 

The protective properties that gratitude offers can be summed up in this way: what we focus on increases. If we are constantly focusing on fear and worry and lack, we are likely to notice those things more. We expect to see them all around us. On the other hand, if we choose to focus on the good in our lives-on things like faith, peace, and abundance-we are more likely to experience those things instead. What we focus on increases. 

Gratitude works in this way because our thoughts become our reality. What we choose to focus on becomes real for us. What we hold in consciousness becomes what we experience. Our thoughts become things. 

As we move into this season of thanksgiving, lets be mindful of where we place our focus, intentional about noticing, recording, and celebrating all the good that surrounds us, and mindfully sharing our gratefulness with the people we care about.

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