This is my year to host Thanksgiving. Due to anticipation of next week’s festivities, I admittedly have not been as focused on my work this week as I should be. So, this column is a bit recycled from a past column. Recycled columns are kind of like your favorite recipes-they don’t get old because they still satisfy your taste buds.

Even though it is a lot of work, I enjoy hosting my family’s Thanksgiving feast. I look forward to the challenge of making sure the turkey is done at the same time as all the side dishes, and I am grateful for the compliments on my pies. As you prepare for celebrations during the next month and a half, take a break from all the stress and noise to reflect upon the positive things in your life. What are you grateful for?

Research has shown that when you make a conscious effort to focus on being thankful for what you have, you will be happier and healthier. The University of California, Berkeley has a whole institute devoted to this-the Greater Good Science Center-that conducts research on leading a more meaningful life. Their studies have found that practicing gratitude on a regular basis helps you recognize that others help you in many ways, big and small, and that you are not alone if you are struggling. Gratitude also:

  • strengthens relationships
  • allows you to focus on what you have instead of what you don’t
  • affirms that there is good in the world
  • helps you become more resilient when something bad does happen
  • improves your emotional and physical health
  • enables you to “pay it forward” and help others in your family and community

Being grateful can be simple; just say thank you or send a note when someone does something nice for you. You can create a list to help you focus on the good things surrounding you. For more ideas, check the catalog for books on gratitude and related topics to guide you on a journey of leading a more mindful life.

At the library, we are grateful to be able to provide books for people to read on just about any subject, programs to explore new ideas and spaces and technology for people to connect with each other. We are thankful to the City and tax payers for their support. You make it possible for us to enrich people’s lives.

For me personally, the past several years have been a bit challenging. I have adopted the Kansas state motto, Ad Astra Per Aspera, “through the stars through difficulty”, as my own personal slogan. I am grateful that I am alive and functioning, even if it is somewhat slowly and painfully, thankful to my family for their support and happy to work in an environment that allows for fun and creativity as well as intellectual development. What are you thankful for?