When we think of November we think of the most notable holiday, Thanksgiving.
A day of “giving thanks” to our family, friends, pets, significant others, and the Amazon prime delivery guy who never lags on your latest purchase of Fall tablecloths. It’s one of my favorite holidays for many reasons. The most obvious reason is that you’re reminded to focus on your haves instead of have nots. We catch up with family that may live farther away or are usually too busy to spend time together.
Over the years I’ve come to see how much gratitude a holiday like that can bring. It got me thinking, “why does this have to be only on one day?”
Rather than a holi-day of gratitude, I choose to make it a holi-month.
I found, in doing this, that my days felt more spontaneous, people seemed to smile more around me, my energy was high, more tasks were done sooner and effectively, but most of all, I began to simply be happy!
Happiness is something we choose anytime, anywhere.
November has grown to be a month of meaning to me in recent years. It was during November that my dog of 11 years, Vida, was suddenly called to play fetch with her maker in the sky. A childhood friend had ghosted me for no apparent reason other than saying our schedules don’t line up anymore. Three college friends were caught in the act of talking bad about me behind my back. In 2016, having just graduated from college, I was applying to over 30 jobs a week with no interviews lined up. Politics in our country were forever changed. My aunt had lost her battle with cancer shortly before. I was commuting ninety minutes each way to attend classes at UCLA for my post-bacc program, which I paid for entirely on my own.
The feeling of gratitude gave me so much closure.
By no means am I trying to dampen the mood with addressing these events. In fact it’s quite the opposite. It was during these times of frustration and doubt that I was reminded of all the wonderful things that were still present in my life: my rockstar parents, a roof over my head, a degree from one of the top schools in the nation, my mental & physical health, and friends who stuck by me. I was always reminded of this on Thanksgiving day. The feeling of gratitude gave me so much closure.
Giving thanks does so much for your well-being.
We’ve all heard that saying, “When you give, you receive.” Well, it literally is true where your health’s involved. A recent study out of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) reported that adopting an attitude of gratitude in your life month literally improves the strength of your heart. Giving thanks allows us to release serotonin, the happy chemical (cue emoji) in our brain, that makes us feel calm. The heart itself is able to work more smoothly as it receives these relaxing signals from the brain.
In times where mental health is getting more attention because of the increase in anxiety and depression cases, giving thanks is the antidote we all need. Simply spending five minutes in the morning counting your blessings trains your mind to look for things that make you happy. You’ll feel calmer longer and have more energy to power through your day (Goodbye 12 oz lattes!).
Giving thanks is contagious.
As someone who practices mindfulness on the daily, I see the difference in my mood and interactions with others. Throughout this month I have consistently chosen that, no matter what may or may not happen on my day-to-day, I will stay grateful for anything I experience. Whether it be a new career opportunity, finding a quarter in the park I volunteer for, or just getting another day to be alive, I give thanks for it. Others have asked me how I seem to stay calm, cool and collective most of the time. I tell them that it’s because I’m choosing to be thankful every day. Especially during the month of November.
People who seemed surprised by this mindset have told me they tried doing it themselves and notice a change in their mood, behavior, and day overall. Most of all, they seem happier. By being happier through gratitude, it’s like the cold everyone wants to catch this season (No Pun intended). Just like on Thanksgiving Day, imagine how satisfying our lives would be when we practice thankfulness for the whole month. Gratitude is the confetti you throw at a party that everyone wants to dance to. I know I do!
One day is good, one month is amazing.
Despite all the challenging things that have happened to me or may happen down the line, I know choosing to have that attitude of gratitude is the way to go…it just makes life so much easier. We can’t control challenges that come our way, but we can choose how we respond. Hey, what power! I choose to use mine to make my time here a fulfilling one. This November, what do you choose?
Demitri is a native Angeleno who is an advocate for personal development. He graduated from UC Irvine in Orange County followed by a diploma program at UCLA. He is currently applying to graduate school where looks to further his career prospects in the corporate sustainability field. An avid storyteller and former actor, he has published articles in such LA-based brands as Entity MAG and the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter newsletter. When he is not writing or looking to solve the climate crisis he can be found jogging, meditating, listening to indie rock/EDM and learning how to make the perfect cocktail for friends and family.