I was first introduced to Thanksgiving on a “Little House in the Prairie” episode: “what an interesting concept I thought to myself” – then went on about my day. Over the years, the prevalence of American shows on French television helped me conceptualize to a certain extent the “history” of this American Holiday. Until recently, I knew the holiday was important, but despite being acquainted with the codes and cues surrounding the festivities, I never fully understood its true significance and implications (even after moving to New York, being invited to a few “parties” and organizing my own “Friendsgiving”). For me, it came down to hanging with family and people you like, and of course: food. Let’s see how I went from knowing something, to actually understanding it.
The Awareness: How Language Shapes the Way We See the World
If you are bilingual or polyglot, you may have noticed that there are words or expressions you cannot translate – at least verbatim – from one language to another: there are no words, and even explaining can be tricky. What I did not realize until I watched Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky TED Talk is How Language Shapes the Way We Think – Mia Nacamulli explains further how bilingualism shapes our physical brain and how depending on the age we learn the language may affect our emotional bias when we speak it.
Lost and Found in Translation
In English, the words gratitude, grateful and ungrateful all have the same etymological root.” from Latin gratus “thankful, pleasing, goodwill” (etymology.com)
In French, the word for gratitude is “reconnaissance,” being grateful is “être reconnaissant(e),” and its antonym “ingrat” (ungrateful). Why does it matter? Although I knew the definition of these words in French, it never occurred to me they were indeed related, a bit the way birds are related to dinosaurs, you know? Plus, the word “ingrat” in my experience was solely used in one way: as a tool of manipulation to do things that were required to do (clean up my room or do chores). Additionally, it seems as if the word has a spiritual connotation (at least to me) and was in recent years of positive psychology that has been highly popularized. You can see it written everywhere: t-shirts, mugs, notebooks – in the meantime, (in a culture that prides itself for its secularism) nobody is walking around in the streets of Paris (or elsewhere in France for that matter) with a “Reconnaissante” t-shirt! *Bonus point: Grateful in English does sound way smoother when spoken out loud…
On December 12th, 2012 (12/12/12 <<< does this mean anything?) I watched Shawn Anchor’s Ted Talk The Happy Secret to Better Work. The same day, I ordered his book The Happiness Advantage: It blew my mind! One of the studies he shared showed that writing down 3 things we were grateful for during a period of 21 days had the power to rewire your brain for optimism and success. Since then, it has been a habit that I incorporated into my routine, something I try to do every day (I do skip some days, but try not to) – and I have to say: I always feel more positive and at peace when I journal and write down the things I am grateful for. One of my great pleasures is to go over my old notes and see how I either manifested something or was on the path of great outcomes.
2 in 1: The 3 Months Gratitude Journal
Gives room for daily gratitude practice+ has an entire page for daily journaling. The cover features illustrations from the “Shine Bright Collection” and at the back inspirational poems so you too could remind yourself what is at stake. Comes in different covers!
The 52 weeks Gratitude Journals
6x9in (compact) – one-year journal – to succinctly write memorable moments and win of the day:
Square (8.5×8.5in) journals – one-year journal – with a little bit more space write your win of the day:
This year for Thanksgiving, I find myself really excited and ready to embrace the significance of the holiday. Of course, I will look forward to good food but to honor it, I decided to challenge myself to start writing it down systematically.