It’s All About Gratitude
by John Pecoraro
Manhattan Public Library
Now that the Thanksgiving feasting and the shopping in its aftermath is behind you, it’s time to reflect on all the reasons you have to be thankful. After all, this is the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving Day every year?
The Pilgrims celebrated what we call the First Thanksgiving in October 1621 after their first harvest in the New World. But it was Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed the day (the last Thursday of November) a federal holiday at the height of the Civil War, in 1864. Usually the last Thursday was the fourth Thursday in November, but to avoid confusion when there were five Thursdays in a month, Congress passed a joint resolution officially requiring Thanksgiving to be observed on the fourth Thursday in November. And that is where it has been since December 26, 1941.
Thanksgiving Day is all about gratitude. Gratitude, defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness” doesn’t always come naturally. To assist gratitude challenged, the library has several titles available on the subject.
“The Gratitude Diaries,” by Janice Kaplan, recounts the author’s year of looking on the bright side, and the remarkable effects this had on her physical and mental well-being. Kaplan focuses on being thankful for her family and her career. She keeps a “gratitude journal,” and consults with experts in the fields of psychology and medicine. She also talks with friends who had beat depression after adversity. The result, Kaplan finds, is that she is a better person after a year of gratitude.
After years of research and practice, Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons discovered that grateful living transforms lives. In “The Grateful Life,” they show that grateful people are happier, healthier, and less stressed. Grateful people report more satisfaction with their relationships. This book is a guide to discovering and harnessing the power of positive attitude filled with inspiring stories about people who have exercised gratitude to rise out of adversity.
A posthumous release by a famous neurologist is a small book that explains the predominant feeling of the author’s life, namely, gratitude. “Gratitude,” by Oliver Sacks weighs in at a mere 45 pages. Within those pages, as Sacks approaches death, he explains his gratitude for life. He explores the fate of every human being, to be a unique individual, finding his own path to live his own life, and to be thankful for it.
One December, John Kralik found his life at a very low ebb, with a failing law practice, a painful divorce, and being 40 pounds overweight. On New Year’s Day, Kralik thought that maybe his life could become tolerable if only he focused on being grateful for what he had, instead of dwelling on what he didn’t have. The result, “A Simple Act of Gratitude,” follows the author’s experiment with writing thank you notes. Kralik wrote 365 thank you notes, one a day, for a year, for gifts and kindnesses he had received. On the way, Kralik realizes that his life has turned around.
In “Focus on the Good Stuff,” motivational speaker and author Mike Robbins examines the dangers of negativity in individuals and society. His simple yet powerful solution is to be grateful, appreciative, and positive. The book provides exercises at the end of each chapter to practice gratitude and to reach greater success and fulfillment.
“Thanks!,” by Robert Emmons summarizes the research he and others have conducted on the subject of gratitude. His research found that subjects who kept “gratitude diaries,” listing things for which they were thankful, turned out to be happier, more optimistic, and healthier compared to those who only chronicled the daily hassles of their lives. Emmons claims that gratitude is more than a tool for self-improvement. It is a way of life.
In addition to print books, don’t forget the library’s extensive collection of books on CD, and books and audio available for free download through the Sunflower eLibrary and Hoopla. Also mark your calendar for Saturday, December 2. That’s the day of Food for Fines. For each nonperishable food item you bring to the library, MPL will take $1.00 off of your overdue fines up to $10.00 per library account. All food donated will benefit the Flint Hills Breadbasket. Just another thing to be thankful for.