Buy the groceries! Prep the turkey! Set the table! In the midst of the scurry to get ready for Thanksgiving, sometimes it can be difficult to just enjoy the moment with friends and family. It might be time to try something different this year (and no, I’m not talking about a new cranberry recipe). Start the Thanksgiving season with an intention to savor even the little moments—a practice that boosts your happiness levels, reduces stress and helps you navigate negative emotions that might surface when your family gathers together.
1. Develop a taste for savoring
The Latin root of the word savor literally means “to taste,” so Thanksgiving is the perfect time to try out this positive habit. In the same way that you might enjoy your favorite smoked turkey dish or sweet potato casserole covered in toasted marshmallows (mmmm…), savoring involves pausing to appreciate the sights, sounds, smells and feelings around you. Do you feel crispness in the air as leaves fall to the sidewalk? Do you hear laughter ringing in the background as you step into the kitchen? What was the funniest thing someone said at the dinner table? What memories does the hum of a football game evoke in you?
Practice the art of savoring now, so that you can train your brain to savor even in the midst of stressful, hectic or challenging times.
2. Find connection amid distraction
Savoring is about being present and conscious in the moment, which we all know can be a challenge amid the numerous distractions in our lives. For many families, Thanksgiving is a special time of year when multiple generations gather around a table for a communal experience. However, all too often, technology eclipses these moments of connection. Yes, teens struggle with tech addiction, but so do many adults. We use tech as a buffer for awkward conversation or even an escape from unsavory obligations (anyone want to wash dishes?).
3. Use technology wisely
Consider these practical ideas for using technology to help you savor the holiday season:
- Look through old family photos together, either in scrapbooks or by going through pictures on Shutterfly, Google Photos or Instagram.
- Read through your gratitude journal from the past year, or start a new journal on the Gratitude Journal app.
- Lead your family in a one-minute (or longer!) meditation before dinner using the Headspace or another meditation app.
- Use the Remindfulness app to get gentle reminders in your day to stay mindful amid the hustle and bustle.
- Write down a list of memorable phrases from dinner on Evernote and send an automatic reminder to yourself for next year to relive the memory.
- While your food is settling after dinner, engage your family in a hilarious game of charades using Ellen Degeneres’ app HeadsUp, which is fun for all ages.
Amy Blankson, aka the ‘Happy Tech Girl,’ is on a quest to find strategies to help individuals balance productivity and well-being in the digital era. Amy, with her brother Shawn Achor, co-founded GoodThink, which brings the principles of positive psychology to life and works with organizations such as Google, NASA and the US Army. Her upcoming book is called The Future of Happiness: 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-being in the Digital Era (April 2017).