Thoughts on The Gratitude Effect on Thanksgiving
I have asked Greg Davies to write a guest blog for my website. Greg is one of my co-authors of the book, “Infinite Giving“. He is sharing the topic of “Thanksgiving”, which is a holiday occurring in the USA today. Even though Greg is from Great Britain, and never has celebrated Thanksgiving before, he is truly an expert on the gratitude effect.
This is a bit of a weird one, a blog about Thanksgiving from the co-author of Infinite Giving, the Seven Principles of Givers Gain, which was written by Two Brits and a Yank. Why is that weird, I hear you ask? Well, I can easily discuss the gratitude effect as explained in our book. However, I am firmly in the “Brits” camp and have not attended a single thanksgiving celebration in my entire life (as we don’t celebrate it in the UK). I found myself researching this iconic holiday for the first time. Here is Ivan’s Thanksgiving message from last year. Now at this point, I roll out the elementary school presentation.
The First Thanksgiving
In 1621, 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims gave thanks for a successful harvest with a feast that lasted for at least 3 days, etc etc. Fast forward a few hundred years and we have Turkey, Mash, Pumpkin Pie, and the now infamous Black Friday. What I would much rather do, is point out that the “First Thanksgiving” was far from it.
Yes, it is the most referenced and the one that was recounted by attendee Edward Winslow in the American tradition and yes….well….maybe yes, it was the first where Pilgrims and Native Americans sat down and shared a meal (the jury is still out on that one), but the fact is those at the Plymouth Plantation would regularly give thanks for many different gifts that were bestowed upon them. The early Pilgrims would offer days of thanks for blessings such as military victory, end of a drought, recovery of a sick community member, and in this case, a successful harvest. They had built into their culture that when something good happens you need to take time to recognise it and say thank you.
The gratitude effect is not new-age, it’s science.
We cover this in the book, Chapter 11 Principle 7, The Gratitude Effect. There are some wonderful examples in the book of studies that show just how powerful saying “thank you” can be.
Gratitude, like so many other principles of success, is simple, but not easy.
The Pilgrims built gratitude into their religion and daily lives, it became a pillar of their belief and a cornerstone of their community, and for us to adopt this simple act will take a habit defining decision.
The gratitude effect requires a life-long journey of developing our ability to be grateful.
While the above may sound a little heavy, the actual effort involved in giving genuine gratitude is minuscule, but to begin with, it just feels weird. Try crossing your arms the other way, if you normally go left over right, go right over left or vice versa, SEE! IT JUST FEELS WEIRD. This has nothing to do with one way being right and the other wrong, it is just because your neuropathways have formed, and by doing it the other way, you are forging a new path.
That right there is the point, we must choose to forge a new path. We must accept that it may feel strange to begin with, but stick with it and recognise all of the wonderful things that are happening to us and say thank you. Then, a new habit has been formed.
The gratitude effect doesn’t take much effort and costs little or nothing.
I am thankful for the fact that I was asked to write this blog. I am thankful that in the single most challenging year that we as a planet will (hopefully) face in our lifetime, I have forged some of the strongest friendships, met some of the most inspirational people, and been touched by the light of human kindness like I never have been before. I hope that one day, people will give thanks for the difference I have made to them, because the real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? Happy Thanksgiving from England, the original home of the Pilgrims.
2 thoughts on “Thoughts on The Gratitude Effect on Thanksgiving”
While enjoying your traditional Thanksgiving celebration, keep in mind that what most people think of the First Thanksgiving is not quite accurate. Most of our Thanksgiving traditions are based on the New England traditions honoring the Plymouth Colony in 1621. In fact, the first giving of thanks in a permanent European settlement in what is now the United States was not at Plymouth Colony in 1621. It was in St. Augustine, in Florida, in 1565, some 56 years earlier!! There is also some evidence that the French and Spanish celebrated feasts of thanksgiving prior to St. Augustine but those were not in permanent settlements.
By the time of Plymouth Colony in 1621, St. Augustine was a thriving city in Spanish Florida with homes, businesses, and churches, governmental buildings, and fortifications. The Spanish had even built a watch tower (lighthouse) at the entrance to the harbor. There was an established society with laws, government and trade with a variety of indigenous peoples. There were established roads and paths for travel and communication with other Spanish settlements and missions across Florida, such as Pensacola and the Mission San Luis de Apalachee in current Tallahassee. The old parish church of St. Augustine later became the Cathedral of St. Augustine. The Roman Catholic parish congregation of St. Augustine is the oldest in the continental United States, with surviving records of the parishioners dating from 1594.
I like what former History Professor Michael Gannon (UF) said, “By the time the Pilgrims came to Plymouth, St. Augustine was up for urban renewal. (Sad to learn that Professor Emeritus Gannon passed away in Spring 2017, at age 89. He was a true champion of Florida history.)
The purpose of this post has been to highlight the feast of thanksgiving in St. Augustine in 1565. If you are interested in the true circumstances and the effect on indigenous peoples in New England, see the articles at the end on the following list.
For additional reading on the real first Thanksgiving at St. Augustine, here are several articles. The first two are especially informative.
Effect of European thanksgiving feasts on indigenous peoples.
It’s not traditional to have Thanks Giving in Brazil (unfortunally).
But I think we should share this idea as much as we can, because, as you said, it’s science and should be a habit.