Thanksgiving has traditionally been one of America’s favorite holidays. Abraham Lincoln receives credit for establishing a national Thanksgiving Holiday in 1863, hoping in part that the establishment would help to heal the wounds of a divided nation. On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress, for the first time making the date of Thanksgiving a matter of federal law and fixing the day as the fourth Thursday of November.
Most understand the origins of the Thanksgiving meal to have taken place in the Fall of 1621, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony famously shared a harvest feast with members of local Native American tribes who had taught the settlers how to grow corn.
In addition to enjoying parades, football and a great meal (and for more and more Americans a chance to get a jump on Black Friday), Thanksgiving is a great time to pause from the frenetic pace of our lives and reflect on all the blessings which have been bestowed upon us such as our families, faith, health, freedom, and life itself. Too often we get caught up in the day-to-day maelstrom of deadlines, activities and the truly trivial, and fail to pause and reflect with gratitude on the wonder that is the gift of life and the universe we inhabit.
To quote from an article on The Change Blog by Marelisa Fabrega titled How Gratitude Can Change Your Life, “Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present.”
But being grateful doesn’t just make you a better person. Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The results of the study indicated that gratitude actually improves the quality of our lives. Those who express gratitude often experience less depression and stress, are more likely to help others and often result in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm and optimism and achieve more personal goals. As we practice gratitude, we begin to appreciate the little things that we previously took for granted, and look for the good even in unpleasant or uncomfortable situations.
From a business standpoint, practicing gratitude is critical to the success of ourselves and our organizations. Working in a team environment, companies expect staff members to work together to accomplish common goals. Coworkers who know you are grateful for their efforts to help you accomplish a task or complete a project are much more likely to give their best effort.
Saying “Thank You” to clients and customers often and sincerely isn’t just good business, it is critical to our survival. With all of the options available, people and companies have many choices for how and where they commit their resources. Providing quality products and services at competitive prices only allows us to become part of the discussion. Business is all about relationships, and saying “Thank You” often and, most importantly, sincerely helps to remind customers that their best interests are always of primary concern and never taken for granted.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton