Give Thanks: Be Happier and Healthier

This week, you can't avoid being told to give thanks. But, there's more to gratitude than cursory platitudes.

Regular reflection on the good things in your life can make you not only more grateful, but also happier, healthier, and more engaged in life. And whether you're a ski bum, peak bagger, or dirt bag climber, who doesn't want a more positive, rewarding life, indoors and out?

So, in this season of thankfulness, try recording three good things in your life. Here are three of mine:

1. I'm thankful for our Trailspace community and every member who makes it a positive, welcoming place. Thank you for sharing your outdoor expertise, smarts, and passion. You make Trailspace a success and I'm glad to be part of it with you.

2. I'm thankful that I have the ability and opportunity to run, hike, and ski up and down mountains, often with my two cool kids and spouse. Not everyone has that freedom or opportunity and I try not to take it for granted. (I don't always succeed, but I've become much more grateful for this since I started sponsoring a woman through Women for Women, a non-profit that helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives.)

3. And, I'm thankful that there are natural places out there — near and far — that challenge, invigorate, inspire, and fulfill me. Sometimes in the middle of a run or ski in my neck of the woods, I stop and just look. Even the view I've seen a hundred times, deserves to be seen again.

I hope each of you have at least three good things in your lives for which to be grateful.


800 reviewer rep
2,162 forum posts
November 25, 2010 at 10:35 a.m. (EST)

Great thoughts, Alicia. I have too many things to list :)

1,723 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts
November 25, 2010 at 10:23 p.m. (EST)

I would have to say, my family, my health, my freedom.

I am also very intrigued by the link you posted to Women for Women, my wife and I contribute what we can to a couple other organizations who work in a similar capacity. I think the need for helping these people can't be overstated, they need opportunity,  to know there is hope, and that people care. I would encourage people to give what they can, even if it is only 5 dollars a month, it does add up.

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
1,119 reviewer rep
4,046 forum posts
November 29, 2010 at 12:14 p.m. (EST)

I'm glad you both have so many things to list and be grateful for. Most of us probably have more than we think about regularly. I know that's true for me.

Trout, if you or your wife are interested in Women for Women, you might want to read A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman by Lisa Shannon. The author got involved by sponsoring women in the Congo. Your library may have a copy of her book. After reading it I immediately became a sponsor.

You can donate funds once to the entire organization or sponsor an individual annually. The sponsorship pays for the women to get one year of training in areas like education, human rights, health, business practices, etc. A small percentage is given to them on their one-year graduation from the program. The aim is to make them self-sufficient leaders in their communities. The organization focuses on war-affected regions.

What's neat about sponsorship is that you're paired with an actual participant you can send letters, emails, and pictures to (for privacy reasons communications go through the organization, plus many participants can't write, so interpreters actually write the letters).

I've learned a bit about what it means to be a female cassava farmer in Nigeria without any education at all, no running water, no electricity, etc. And it's made me much more appreciative of my own opportunities. I honestly think that while I'm glad I can make a difference in someone's life, the opportunity to do so makes a positive difference in mine.

There are lots of organizations that do good works out there, whether you support them by volunteering time, money, or expertise.

Next time around I may sponsor a woman in Afghanistan or Iraq.

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