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Why you should practice gratitude even before Thanksgiving

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NOVEMBER 14, 2022

In the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday traditionally consists of hours spent in the kitchen, followed by a hearty meal with friends and family gathered around the dinner table — each person stating what they’re thankful for before digging in. But why reserve expressing gratitude for only one day of the year when we can sprinkle a bit of thankfulness into each day? Here’s why you should make practicing gratitude a daily habit, not just on Thanksgiving. 

Starting your day with gratitude can truly change the trajectory of your mindset, especially on those days when life doesn’t feel like it’s going the way you wanted. When I think of Thanksgiving day, it almost feels like pushing a “reset” button — I look back at the year so far to acknowledge all of the positive people I’ve met or experiences I’ve had. Beginning each day with this frame of mind has been a game changer. Instead of waking up and immediately opening Instagram or TikTok to catch up on all that I’ve missed in the last seven hours of my sleep, I now start my day off of my phone by journaling. Rather than mindlessly scrolling, I grab my five-minute journal off my nightstand and follow the prompt for the day. It usually begins with an inspirational quote at the top of the page and then asks for three things I’m grateful for, three things that would make the day great and three daily affirmations. 

Being able to channel my thoughts and direct my energy into a positive outlet from the moment I wake up really does set the tone for the rest of my day. Without realizing it, after a couple of weeks I instinctively started reaching for my journal and pen without even thinking twice about using my phone. I swapped out my morning habit from scrolling through social media to journaling. 

On Thanksgiving Day, I’m surrounded by my closest family members, who I typically only see on big holidays or birthdays. But by the time we all finish cooking, get to the designated dinner house and begin eating, I haven’t spent near as much quality time with them as I would like tp before it’s time to leave. 

While it might not be possible to see all of my family members consistently, I can still take time out of my day to call or text them just to see how they’re doing. Practicing gratitude allowed me to realize that I do have a big support system. Instead of waiting for one day a year to appreciate those I love the most, I try to do what I can every day to remind myself and them how much they mean to me. The simple blue text bubble that appears when I send a message now brings me more joy than ever before. I truly value the wholesome back and forth phone calls, texts and FaceTime calls. Whether it be five minutes or an hour, conversations with my loved ones — even if they’re just virtual — leave me feeling warm and fuzzy for the rest of the week. 

Don’t get me wrong — devoting a full day to the Thanksgiving festivities truly sparks joy and gives me something to look forward to as I work hard throughout the semester. But taking just five minutes — 0.35% of your day — to practice gratitude before you tackle the tasks on your busy schedule will have a domino effect in the best way possible. The cascade of positivity will build as your day goes on and will carry you through any rough patches without you even realizing it. A bad moment doesn’t have to cause a complete 180-degree shift in your mood. As one of my favorite mantras goes: “Feel the feelings and move forward.”

All in all, the “giving” of “thanks” that’s associated with Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be the only time you realize all the good in your life. You can start small with just five minutes a day by journaling on your commute to school or work. Simply list all of the things you appreciate and are grateful to have in your life in any pocket of free time you have during the day. There’s no need to be extravagant when it comes to practicing gratitude. 

Contact Isabel Espinoza at 


NOVEMBER 14, 2022