To all our American friends, best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving! To those who don’t celebrate the holiday, there’s a message in it for you, too.
Thanksgiving reminds us to take time to count our blessings, because no matter what your current life situation, you have many things to be thankful for. You can begin with the fact that you woke up this morning, and, as my grandmother used to say, you arose “clothed in your right mind.”
One of my favorite movies this time of year is the 1954 classic, White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt!), and Danny Kaye. The film features the music of Irving Berlin, and the Crosby/Clooney rendition of his song, “Count Your Blessings” is the most famous of many renditions recorded over the years. It scored the movie’s only Academy Award nomination, for Best Song, but it didn’t win.
Surprisingly, I’ve never been a fan of Bing Crosby whether he performed alone or with his longtime movie partner, comedian Bob Hope. But this movie, and this song, wins me over every time. My favorite lyric:
“When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings”
If you’re well aware that you are blessed several times over, you don’t have to count them all to realize the benefits of the exercise. Psychologists often suggest a simple therapy called Three Blessings that’s been shown to have a “powerful, positive effect on reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, while simultaneously increasing a sense of joy and well-being.”
Here’s how you do it: Each night at bedtime, think about three things – only three – that happened during the day that you’re truly happy about. Then, think about why you believe they occurred.
Psychologist Dr. Daniel Tomasulo says that people completing the exercise for just one week “increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms for six months.” Talk about long-lasting impact!
I don’t think people count sheep anymore when they’re trying to fall asleep, but clearly, Mr. Berlin’s advice to count your blessings makes sense for everyone, for all time.