Thankfulness is like Toby Flenderson: Sometimes you just forget about it

Photo credit: Gwen Ueding | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

It’s that time of the year: time to go around the table and have everyone say something they are grateful for. It may be cheesy — or the holiday equivalent of your parents asking “How was your day at school?” — but that spirit of gratefulness has made Thanksgiving into far more than simply a day to remember pilgrims.

It’s easy to overlook Thanksgiving, especially as the holiday finds itself flanked by the Halloween and Christmas seasons. However, as the name implies, it should not be taken for granted. The time to be thankful doesn’t start in late November and end on Dec. 26; it’s daily and year-round.

Daily gratitude is not simply a healthy life practice. Intentional interactions and a focus on genuine daily thankfulness can actually improve relationships and relieve anxiety, stress and depression, according to a 2021 study by Harvard Medical School.

Thankfulness isn’t the practice of saying “thank you.” In the context of the Thanksgiving holiday and the Harvard study, thankfulness is a mindset. It is a feeling of contentment with what you have and where you are in life. It is a genuine spirit of gratefulness found even in the smallest daily interactions.

When was the last time you truly felt that way? The answer, hopefully, isn’t the last time you sat down for Thanksgiving turkey.

Daily thankfulness sounds healthy, right? What does that look like in your life? It can mean something different to everyone. It really breaks down into constantly showing appreciation, and there are many ways to do that.

Before it’s too late, be present with those around you. Recognize the things they do for you — especially the little things. Maybe you give back through a meaningful gift. Maybe you help around the house, talk to family and simply be present this season.

A thankful heart doesn’t need to make a huge gesture to have an impact on someone’s life or your own. Next time you stop to be thankful, hopefully it isn’t simply because someone asked what you’re thankful for.