Could things be anymore divided?
Protest, distrust, hatred, and violence scarred the year, but the President thoughtfully shared his impression: “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.”
Abraham Lincoln’s gracious assessment of 1863 is immortalized in the opening line of his first Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. And it offers insight into a healing response to this year’s unrest.
Over 150 years have passed since Lincoln’s establishment of an annual, national observance of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” In 1863 that day came just one week after the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg where Lincoln gave his celebrated two minute address. The War Between the States would go on for another year and a half.
What prompted Lincoln to articulate such a “healthful” outlook, where many saw only servitude to gloom and despair, was an intensified appreciation for blessings and their origin. Read more…
Pass the gravy please and thank you! A big part of Thanksgiving tradition involves family recipes and food…lots of food. And while we all know the dangers of excessive eating, it turns out gratitude in big portions is good for us.
How good? The effects of thankfulness on health are measurable according to researchers who have been studying the connection with great interest. One example: Robert Emmons at the University of California-Davis and Michael McCullough from the University of Miami have deduced that people feel better physically and mentally when counting their blessings. Their study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The two psychologists open their report with a Charles Dickens quote: “Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” The researchers studied three groups each with a different assignment. One group focused on things they were grateful for over a one week period. Another group concentrated on daily irritations over the same period, while a third group dealt with things that had impacted their lives with no positive or negative emphasis. It turned out that over a ten week span, those focusing on gratitude experienced fewer health complaints and felt better about their lives.
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