Giving thanks

Thanksgiving ought to be easy. It often doesn’t work out that way. But maybe today it will. We are hard-wired for gratitude, Richard Ford reminds us, even if we have to work on inventing the occasion and the source…

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And as the positive psychologists remind us, gratitude is worth working for.
We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well. 
For sound evolutionary reasons, most of us are not nearly as good at dwelling on good events as we are at analyzing bad events. Those of our ancestors who spent a lot of time basking in the sunshine of good events, when they should have been preparing for disaster, did not survive the Ice Age. So to overcome our brains’ natural catastrophic bent, we need to work on and practice this skill of thinking about what went well.

 Happy Thanksgiving.

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