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Happy Thanksgiving

October 13, 2014

Today is that day of the year when Canadians count their blessings. Set in the Agrarian tradition, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated at the close of the harvest season.

Thanksgiving’s historical origins are far less relevant to modern culture—where local grocery stores provide a cornucopia of fresh produce all year-round—but never has there been a greater need for a call to gratitude. Research reveals that listing the things we are thankful for improves our psychological well-being, and makes us happy. Expressing gratitude is one of the most underused treatments to preserve mental health.

I would like to give you a prescription today. Not for a medication, but for a behaviour.

Over the next two weeks, write down your daily blessings in a gratitude journal. Set aside a few minutes every morning to list three things that you are grateful for in your life. (These blessings can be as weighty as good health or as trivial as a morning hug.) Then, every evening, think back on your day and remember three things that happened for which you are thankful. You can use any written format that you are comfortable with. I would recommend using the Five Minute Journal (iPhone app) on your phone.

Science suggests that a shortcut to happiness is paved by gratitude. All you need do is spare some time, draw your map, and reflect on the journey.

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