Happy Thanksgiving to all in the US and my heart and hope to all of those affected in Mumbai. I'm writing this the night before Turkey Day because I won't be on my computer tomorrow. Which, as it turns out, is kind of a shame.
Apparently, there's one documented way to gain happiness in this nasty and brutish world. How? Not by hitting up the Black Friday sales, as it turns out. It's to write letters of gratitude to those you love. Could this idea in and of itself make me any happier? (I'm, ah, pretty fond of correspondence.) A researcher gave college kids an assignment to write a letter of appreciation every two weeks. Those who participated? Increased their happiness according to several indicators, one of which may be an improved immune system.
"The most powerful thing in our lives is our social network," notes the study's author. So whether you reach out via Twitter or an old-fashioned lace-doily-handmade-card, let some people you love know how grateful you are for their support. Feel free to do so in person today, but the study underscored the benefit of expressive writing, so you've also got to dust off the ol' quill.
I'd like to send a personal request to the research community: could you also quantify the benefit of cooking for those you love? I'm off to devour my homemade cranberry chutney on my brother's bird, with a big slab of my mom's pumpkin pie. I'd wager that no matter what anyone's actually eating, the act of cooking and sharing communal meals has got to make our spirits light.