With the Canadian Thanksgiving Day coming soon and considering the kind of year that we have had in the world, I was wondering about what to be thankful for this year. Is there any importance to be grateful? Is this year’s Thanksgiving Day special? Yes, it is, I think so and let me share my reflections with you.

I love history so let’s begin with some. It is actually in the 19th century when the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving started in Canada (also in the States...). After the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, there was a crisis of faith and protestant ministers made a petition to the Canadian government for an official day to thank God, pointing to the bountiful harvests as proof that God exists. And then they also found another reason to be grateful: to not be American, as U.S. Civil War exploded.

Canadians were then, still figuring out what was meant to be Canadian as Canada was about to become a separate country from Great Britain. Therefore, Thanksgiving day was a way of creating something to help Canada to create a national identity.

So how this is relevant to us today and how it is relevant on a personal level now?. Gratitude helps us to create an identity, to value ourselves and to make us stronger facing the challenges that this year has put in front of us.

In psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, appreciate good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.

There are several benefits in being grateful: On the physical level it has been proved that it helps to build a stronger immune system, people are less bothered by aches and pains, it helps to lower blood pressure and helps the sleeping patterns. On the psychological level, potentialize levels of positive emotions, the persons experience more joy, pleasure, optimism and happiness. Finally, on the social level, it helps to be more helpful, generous, compassionate, forgiving and to feel less lonely and isolated.

Gratitude also allows us to value more the present and ourselves. Firstly, we need to reflect on how all our losses are in the past. We lost a job in the past, we lost a loved one in the past, we lost a material possession in the past. We may live with the consequences of those losses, but the losses are in the past. Now we have other things that we can and must be grateful for. The last few months have been extremely stressful for us all. We have lost our way of doing things, our routines, our ways to interact with each other, just to mention a few. However, we are still alive, we have a lot of things that keep us going, things that we can enjoy, that can bring happiness and pleasure to our lives. It has been proven how grateful people are more stress-resistant. There are studies showing that in the face of serious adversity and suffering, people with a grateful disposition, they’ll recover more quickly.

Secondly, being grateful also helps us to revalue ourselves. Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth. Being grateful helps us to see and to be conscious of our good parts, our qualities, of what we have been capable of doing to get the good things we have now in our lives and how we have contributed to other’s people’s life.

So I want now to offer you 3 suggestions about how to increase and cultivate your gratitude. Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you note or letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. You also can write it for yourself and keep it handy during the day to remind you of your own value.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or to share with a loved one your thoughts about the good things, the enjoyable things, the pretty things that you've received or you saw during the day.

Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment.

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving Day and that all your days will be full of things to be grateful for. Thank you for taking the time to read me today.

Pablo Munoz