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Happy Health YOU

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Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU

(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)

It’s one of my favorite celebrations of the year.

The trees are shifting life cycles and changing colors. The air is a little crisper and the sweaters are cozy. Thanksgiving gathers families with an attitude of gratitude without all the hoopla of consumerism and gifts but the abundance of generational recipes and traditional meals.

Thanksgiving Day in Canada has been a national holiday on the second Monday of October since 1957. Traditionally the indigenous or native peoples of the Americas held ceremonies and festivals to celebrate in the fall at the completion and bounty of the harvest long before European explorers and settlers arrived in what is now Canada.

Many Thanksgivings were held following noteworthy events during the 18th century. Refugees fleeing the civil war in the United States brought the custom of an annual Thanksgiving festival to Canada. From 1879, Thanksgiving Day was held every year but the date varied and there was a special theme each year. The theme was the "blessings of an abundant harvest" for many years. However, Queen Victoria's golden and diamond jubilees and King Edward VII's coronation formed the theme in later years.

From the end of the First World War until 1930, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day were celebrated on the Monday closest to November 11, the anniversary of the official end of hostilities in World War I. In 1931, Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving

Day was moved to a Monday in October. Since 1957, Thanksgiving Day has always been held on the second Monday in October.

Thanksgiving Day in Canada is linked to the customs of those occupying our land prior to our immigration here, as well as the European traditions of harvest festivals. A common image seen at this time of year is a cornucopia, or horn, filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables.

The cornucopia, which means "Horn of Plenty" in Latin, was a symbol of bounty and plenty in ancient Greece. Turkeys, pumpkins, ears of corn and large displays of food are also used to symbolize Thanksgiving Day.

The parallel themes is gratitude for the abundance we have been given.

Healing benefits of feeling gratitude remind us that it would be wise to encourage appreciation for the abundance we have received on a daily basis. Likewise, the healing benefits of giving, also powerful and advantageous for our happiness and health.

Gratitude is an immensely powerful force that we can use to expand our happiness, create loving relationships, and even improve our health. Being thankful for what we have whether it’s the bed we sleep in, the people in our lives or the food we eat has been researched and studied to benefit not just the feelings of great emotional well-being but expanded physical health as well.

Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience are happier and healthier, body and mind. In comparison with non-grateful control groups, those who cultivated a thankful outlook felt better about their lives as a whole and experienced greater levels of joy and happiness. They felt optimistic about the future, got sick less often, exercised more regularlyand had more energy, enthusiasm, determination, and focus.

The Emmons-McCullough studies also found those with the attitude of gratitude on a regular basis made greater progress toward achieving important personal goals and felt stronger during times of challenge in their life, compared to the counterpart study group. Grateful people were shown to slept better and wake up the next day feeling more refreshed. Feelings of thankfulness promoted closer family ties, experienced few symptoms of stress and were more likely to help others and offer emotional support.

If you are wanting to feel the benefits of feeling more appreciation and gratitude start some simple routines in your life such as starting your day taking a few minutes to take some slow and deep breaths with a mantra such as “I am so grateful for my life.”

Take time during the day to say “thank you” when you appreciate the efforts of someone else.

Go for short walks taking in the beauty you encounter and feeling grateful for the experience. End your day with a daily gratitude journal listing everything you are grateful for, small and grand.

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate. It is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place that is current reality. The deeper our appreciation, the more we see with the eyes of the heart and the more our life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe, leaving us happier and healthier.

(If you would like to see an article on a specific topic, please email kelly@indigolounge.ca

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