This is not a post about Thanksgiving, it is about Giving Thanks.
Though the Thanksgiving holiday itself is very U.S.-centric, the concept of the importance of gratitude is universal. Since the mid 90s, the concept of gratitude has captured the attention of researchers in the fields of psychology, especially positive psychology, and neuroscience.
The strongest pattern emerging from the study of gratitude is somewhat surprising: although expressing gratitude often means thanking someone else, the real benefit of feeling and expressing gratitude is gained by the person expressing gratitude. Even when expressed to no one in particular, expression of gratitude has some real and measurable benefits.
Among the benefits described by academic studies of the subject are increased happiness, better connections with others, and general improvement of one’s relationships.
Expressing gratitude routinely trains the brain to find reasons to be grateful, and trains the brain to feel happy about positive experiences. In fact, the field of neuroscience generally sees habitual practice of feeling, acknowledging, and expressing gratitude as a great shortcut to happiness, productivity, and connectedness.
As a company that is based almost entirely on connecting people, we believe strongly that the practice of gratitude, and the benefits of expressing gratitude in everyday life are worth celebrating.
So, we would like to say:
To all our wonderful users, students, teachers, and tutors: we want to express the immense amount of gratitude we feel seeing the development of our community. This Thanksgiving, we are deeply grateful for all the people donating their time to others by correcting notebooks, writing articles, sharing their experiences in the community discussions, and dedicating the time and effort for learning foreign language from each other, often from opposite sides of the world. We are grateful to see the meaning our effort can take on for those who want to understand speakers of other languages, and willing to dedicate their time and energy to help the online language-learning ecosystem grow and develop.
We are glad to express this idea, and hope that you will find many ways to express it, and many people to whom you want to show your gratitude.
A common practice recommended by positive psychology is of gratitude journaling. Picking a certain time of the day to do a simple mindful practice of finding reasons to be grateful helps make the habit part of one’s life. This kind of continuous practice is familiar to all language-learners.
Imagine how hard it would be to learn a language if you simply spent one day each year binging on foreign-language material, and lived the rest of the year unconcerned with your practice. As with gratitude, language learning is a continuous practice of small, but intentional steps towards a goal, a better understanding, and better connection to others.
On this Thanksgiving holiday, and in light of this idea of continuous improvement and practice, we would like to share this article about Thanksgiving written by a Lakota columnist for the Guardian.
And, of course, we’d like to encourage you to say “thank you” to someone today, in whatever language you want to pick.
Harvard Medical School: Harvard Mental Health Letter
Psychology Today: The Grateful Brain
US National Library Of Medicine: Gratitude and Well Being