Although it's easy to focus only on the pumpkin pie and stuffing, Thanksgiving does have an important purpose as a holiday: It encourages Americans to practice gratitude and thankfulness. As inspirational Thanksgiving quotes demonstrate, this sometimes-silly holiday can still be meaningful and important in this respect. After all, taking a moment to reflect on the things that are going right in your life is always brilliant and beneficial. And if you're simply thankful for the pecan pie, that's OK too.
To begin, it's helpful to look back at the holiday's history. Before the 19th century, Thanksgiving was not observed in a unified way across the U. S. But in 1863, writer and editor Sarah Josepha Hale championed the holiday's celebration and even wrote a letter to President Lincoln advocating the national celebration of Thanksgiving, according to Biography. If she were alive today, Hale would definitely be a huge part of the women's blogosphere, because she got stuff done. Thanks to Hale's efforts, Lincoln agreed and fixed the Thanksgiving date as a holiday. Due in part to these efforts, Thanksgiving Day was officially recognized as a holiday by Congress in 1941, according to History, and it has become an occasion that Americans love to celebrate, as evidenced by the estimated 47 million Americans who travel for Thanksgiving, as noted by CNN. Something about the opportunity to gather with family and give thanks for the good things in life has helped this holiday stick around for almost 400 years. Clearly, gratitude is a lasting impulse.
This year, as Thanksgiving draws near, here is a collection of inspiring quotes about giving thanks. Hopefully these will get you in a good mood, and you and your family will find endless reasons to give thanks this year.
1. "Feeling gratitude isn't born in us — it's something we are taught, and in turn, we teach our children." — Joyce Brothers
A psychologist who ran an advice column for 53 years — 40 of which were with Good Housekeeping — Joyce Brothers had some insight into the important things in life. Not surprisingly, giving thanks is one of them.
2. “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Although he's most famous for essays about self-reliance and individualism, Ralph Waldo Emerson also advocated an attitude of thankfulness that you should observe regularly. Personally, I'm thankful I don't have to survive in the woods alone.
3. "If you think about a Thanksgiving dinner, it’s really like making a large chicken.” — Ina Garten
Hey, if you're staring down at that turkey and feeling fearful, this quip from Ina Garten comparing that seemingly larger than life bird to an approachable, not intimidating chicken, is all kinds of inspiring. Of course, making Thanksgiving easy is simple enough for the Barefoot Contessa herself, but you too can pull off a successful meal by being confident, staying calm, and having at least one foolproof Thanksgiving dish that will please just about everyone. We're totally grateful for simple recipes.
4. "Be thankful for what you have. You'll end up having more." — Oprah Winfrey
Even the Queen of all media understands the importance of thankfulness. If she wants to give me a car or two, I'd be forever grateful.
5. "Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy." — Jacques Maritain
As philosopher Maritain noted, thankfulness is also form of politeness. If you host Thanksgiving this year, your friends and family should be grateful to you — hopefully by doing all the dishes when the meal is done. Hey, it's just good manners.
6. "My parents came from little, so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it." — Meghan Markle
Markle's family emphasized the giving portion of Thanksgiving, as the actress explained to Elle. If you're feeling inspired, check out local Thanksgiving Day volunteer opportunities in your own city.
7. "Gratitude . . . has been referred to as the secret to life. That's pretty good, right?" — Robert Emmons
Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, Robert Emmons advocates gratitude in a big way. It looks like your family can indulge in the secret to life itself alongside the dressing and cranberries this Thanksgiving.
8. "Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude." — Denis Waitley
Motivational speaker Denis Waitley was speaking more broadly here, but the sentiment applies well to Thanksgiving. Make sure you revisit the reasons you're #blessed this holiday, and remember that we all just want to be happy.
9. "Gratitude is gold." — Jane Ransom
In her TED talk, Jane Ransom explains why gratitude is such a big part of being happy and staying positive. Saying thanks just might make your whole day a little brighter this Thanksgiving.
Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.