Gratitude makes you happier, healthier, and more popular

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What does it mean to “give thanks?”

Well, it depends. It depends on who, where, when, and how.

If you were around in October 1621 at the Plimouth Plantation, you might have been part of the “First Thanksgiving”. Here, the Native Americans and Pilgrims came together to celebrate the first harvest in the New World.

The settlers had struggled the previous winter due to a lack of supplies and food. Many had starved or became ill and died as a result. Yet, a number survived. Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag tribe, had given the colonists food to get through their first winter.

After the snow thawed, the Pilgrims gradually learned to live off the land. Squanto, from the Patuxet tribe, taught them how to grow corn and catch eel. After this successful harvest, they threw a three-day feast that included waterfowl, turkey, venison, corn, and various shellfish.

Although such festivities were held intermittently in the years since, Thanksgiving finally became a federal holiday in 1863, thanks to Abraham Lincoln. Since then, Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday of every November.

Fast Forward to Gratitude Today

While roast turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce are staples for the Thanksgiving holiday today, how often do we really practice gratitude?

We complain about this and that. We get agitated when deciding what to wear if we’re not served right away at a restaurant, and after a store doesn’t stock our favorite brand of coffee. But is it a surprise, given we live in an age of abundance?

When it comes to our everyday needs and wants, we have variety right at our fingertips. We can have any type of food delivered right to our doorstep. Our phones ping notifications on today’s trending news. And if you’re looking for entertainment, just open up your internet browser. While these are all good things, we easily take what we have for granted.

People’s acts of kindness often go unrecognized. In many cases, the recipient fails to say a simple “thanks” or give any acknowledgment. In an everyday quest to get things done, people are consumed by their own lives and forget to take the time to thank others.

It seems as if the original intent behind that first Thanksgiving feast has been lost with time.

The Benefits of Gratitude

Both giving and receiving thanks are important. But in order to understand why we need to see the benefits.

There are three main benefits to being thankful:

1. Strengthening social relationships

Gratitude can help us befriend others, improve existing relationships, make amends, and recognize others’ good deeds. In romantic relationships, practicing gratitude for the little things can make all the difference. In one study, expressing gratitude towards the partner improved the relationship quality for both people.

Letting someone know that you’re grateful for the person’s actions, or simply for being in your life, can improve your relationship. It doesn’t matter whether the person is a stranger, friend, parent, relative, or whoever. Thanking others breeds positive feelings all around.

2. Improving our personal sense of well-being

In a study, one group of participants wrote about the things they were grateful for, a second group reflected on the daily things that irritated them, and a third group wrote about their week with neither a positive nor negative slant. 10 weeks later, the grateful group was more optimistic and happier about their lives, while the group that focused on negativity was more likely to visit the doctor.

Giving thanks is not only rewarding intrinsically, but it also helps us feel better about what we have. We’re more joyful overall. Even if you’re having a bad day or things don’t go the way you want, there are definitely some things that you have to be grateful for.

3. Maintaining good health

According to one study, gratitude is linked to the quality of your sleep. People who reflected on the positive things that happened in their day had a better night’s sleep than those who with a negative outlook.

The quality of your sleep is directly related to how you feel during the day and your overall health. Those who were less grateful were more stressed, anxious, and depressed. The opposite was true for those who were more grateful.

To sum it up, here’s a quote from the Wall Street Journal article “Thank You. No, Thank You” on how gratitude affects our lives:

“Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections, and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.”

How to Practice Gratitude

Now that we’ve seen all the benefits of gratitude, we need to incorporate more of it into our lives Practicing gratitude can easily be done using these three ways:

1. Keep a gratitude journal

Jot down a few things you’re thankful for. Place a notebook on your bedside table so that it’s convenient. The best time of the day to write in your journal is right before sleeping. That way, you can reflect on everything that’s happened during the day and you get a happier night’s rest.

To start and end your day on a good note, try The Five Minute Journal.

Remember to be specific. Instead of writing that you’re “thankful for your friend”, think of a specific example, such as “my friend shared her own experiences with work conflict, which helped me navigate a similar situation.” Thinking of particular instances forces you to think hard about the good things that have happened.

2. When in doubt, say “thanks”

We often forget to thank people for the little things, such as lending a pen. Sometimes, we even forget to say “thanks” for the bigger things, such as gifts or loans. If you’re not sure what to say, a simple word of thanks does wonders in making the other person feel valued.

If you met someone interesting at a networking event or completed an academic course, reach out and send an email to the person to thank them for what they taught you. Opening up the lines of communication can lead to opportunities down the road.

3. Use positive phrases

When you’re faced with a dilemma, switch out those negative phrases for positive ones. For instance, I had a power outage that lasted for days. While it was definitely inconvenient, at least I had a chance to interact with people, free of electronics, and catch up on good old-fashioned books.

Whether something is a problem or an opportunity depends on how you look at it. And the way you look at things changes your mindset, attitude, and actions.

A Simple Act of “Thanks” Can Blossom into Something More

The Pilgrims held a feast to celebrate the promise of a bright future. They made it through a difficult winter and recognized how much they had to be thankful for. They saw a place where they and their descendants could thrive.

It’s interesting how such a simple, seemingly insignificant event would go on to become an important annual tradition. If only the Pilgrims who celebrated in those early days recognized the weight of their actions then.

Who knows what significant events can unfold from the small actions you perform today?

18 Swoon-Worthy Overwater Bungalows

Who can resist the allure of an over-water bungalow? Everything about it spells romantic, off-the-grid seclusion, from the thatched roofs and wraparound terraces to outdoor showers and spellbinding views of the azure waters. We traveled to Tahiti, Fiji, Bora Bora and beyond in search of the best over-water bungalows. Here’s what we found.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora Bora Bora, French Polynesia All-Inclusive Resorts Boutique Hotels Grounds Hotels Island Luxury Overwater Bungalow Romance Scenic views Trip Ideas Tropical water sky mountain Nature Lake promontory caribbean Sea Coast islet archipelago Beach Lagoon Resort cape cove resort town reef shore swimming pond

Four Seasons Bora Bora

To get to the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, a private yacht takes you across warm South Pacific waters to your very own over-water bungalow or beachfront villa. Once there, you’ll never have to leave the privacy of your thatched-roof retreat— you can request to have meals delivered by canoe, and decks mean that you’re only ever a stepladder’s distance away from the crystalline lagoon.

Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef Maldives Hembadhu, Maldives Beachfront Bedroom Family Hotels Resort Scenic views Villa property home sink swimming pool bathroom restaurant Suite tub Island

Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef, Maldives

This resort represents a younger, more affordable take on textbook tropical luxury, which translates into hip accommodations, a buzzy vibe and top-notch service. The 62 beach and over-water villas come equipped with outdoor rain showers that let you go au naturel in nature. Take a dip in the reef, then climb up your private ladder onto your deck to laze under the sun.

Likuliku Lagoon Resort Malolo Island, Fiji All-Inclusive Resorts Beach Hotels Luxury Travel Pool Scenic views tree water umbrella chair palm leisure property caribbean Resort swimming pool lawn Sea arecales Ocean Villa tropics Lagoon condominium lined swimming plant sailing vessel shade

Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Fiji

This adults-only resort is home to Fiji’s only over-water bungalows, making it a big draw for honeymooners. Splurge on a Deluxe Beachfront Bure for direct ladder access to the lagoon, a freestanding bath, lounger-strewn deck and a private plunge pool.

Six Senses Laamu Olhuveli Island, Maldives Beach Beachfront Exterior Hotels Islands Luxury Ocean Romantic Trip Ideas water sky umbrella leisure chair Sea caribbean Resort Pool swimming pool pier overlooking Villa shore

Six Senses Laamu, Maldives

On the tiny island of Olhuveli, the Six Senses Laamu’s 97 villas are secluded and luxurious, with indoor-outdoor spaces and private beach access. Throw in six distinctive on-site restaurants and bars, the glamorous spa and water activities, and it’s obvious why this resort is a beach vacay slam dunk.

Angsana Ihuru Ihuru Island, Maldives Beachfront Hip Hotels Lounge Luxury Modern water sky chair scene Sea Ocean wooden vehicle evening caribbean Resort Coast Beach Sunset set

Angsana Ihuru, Maldives

Ideal for lovers, divers and environmentalists, the Angsana Ihuru is a stylish haven on a tiny private island in the Maldives’ North Malé Atoll. Highlights include the thoroughly modern, thatch-roofed bungalows; the wildlife sightings (think: parrotfish, turtles and blacktip sharks); and the resort’s underwater coral garden initiative, which gives guests the opportunity to clean and restore the house reef.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Rangali Island, Maldives Hotels Ocean water sky reef Nature Sea archipelago Coast islet Island blue cape wind wave atoll arctic ocean day  Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Rangali Island, Maldives Hotels Ocean water sky reef Nature Sea archipelago Coast islet Island blue cape wind wave atoll arctic ocean day

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Rangali Island, Maldives Beach Beachfront Elegant Hip Hotels Lounge Luxury Modern Ocean water chair umbrella leisure mountain Pool Resort swimming pool Sea caribbean overlooking Villa swimming Island

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

The resort encompasses two adjacent islands, connected by a 500-meter footbridge, and offers both standard beach villas and the coveted over-water variety. The expansive 1,600-square-foot spa accommodations have large Roman baths, vaulted ceilings, ceiling fans, teak floors, and, of course, unparalleled views of the Indian Ocean.

Constance Prince Maurice Pointe de Flacq, Mauritius Hotels tree sky water house Resort Lake surrounded Village

Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

This 60-acre resort is on a private estate at the end of a peninsula on the unspoiled East Coast of Mauritius. Thanks to the vision of Mauritian architect Jean-Marc Eynaud, the thatch-roof villas are just shy of over-the-top, with heated private pools, romantic outdoor baths and Feng Shui-inspired interiors.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Nha Trang, Vietnam Balcony Beachfront Deck Hotels Jungle Romance Scenic views Terrace Tropical Waterfront sky mountain hut Nature Sea overlooking stone

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam

You’ll need to endure a long-haul flight and a car and boat transfer to get to this luxury boutique hotel. But once you’ve arrived at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, it’s all about pampered relaxation. The 58 villas are set amid massive rock and boulder formations and overlook the South China Sea; those along the beachfront are extra luxurious, with paths running directly to the sand.

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa Bora Bora, French Polynesia Hotels tree sky grass Nature shore Coast green Sea water Beach tropics Ocean River arecales caribbean landscape Jungle Lagoon cove Island flower plant surrounded lush

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa

Each spacious over-water villa at the Inter-Continental Bora Bora has oh-my views of the azure lagoon and the iconic Mount Otemanu. Designed with an environmental sensitivity, the resort uses revolutionary technology that draws seawater from the depths of the ocean to reuse it for electricity.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort Maharepa, French Polynesia Architecture Buildings Exterior Hotels Luxury Overwater Bungalow Resort Scenic views sky water umbrella Sea Ocean Sunset evening house night dusk morning Coast sunlight

Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort, Tahiti

With sawtooth mountain ridges, vertiginous fern-cloaked cliffs, deep ravines and dramatic waterfalls, this wild and romantic island retreat is the ultimate far flung escape. Take in the views from the hammock on your bungalow’s deck or from your deep soak tub or rain shower.

The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort Bora Bora, French Polynesia Beach Hotels Lounge Scenic views chair umbrella property leisure Resort caribbean swimming pool Villa cottage overlooking

The St. Regis Bora Bora

Starting at 1,550 square feet, the over-water accommodations at The St. Regis Bora Bora are the largest in French Polynesia. But it’s not just size that sets these lush bungalows apart. Blending minimalist Polynesian decor (think: plank wood floors, thatch-work ceilings, tribal-inspired art) and 21st century luxuries like glass floor panels, this property is a serious stunner.

Diamonds Athuruga Athuruga Island, Maldives Adventure All-inclusive Beach Beachfront Hotels Play Scenic views Trip Ideas water sky house Boat Sea Lake Ocean caribbean shore Island Coast Lagoon Resort Nature tropics cove dock cape vehicle docked surrounded

Diamonds Athuruga Beach & Water Villas All Inclusive, Maldives

The villas at this all-inclusive Maldives hideaway eschew thatch-roofs and sand-colored interiors for a sleek, white-on-white aesthetic. Inside, find four-poster beds, lacquered writing desks, polished herringbone floors and open-air showers.

El Dorado Maroma, by Karisma Playa Maroma, Mexico Hotels sky water shore Sea Sunset morning Beach Ocean evening Coast dusk River dawn sunrise

El Dorado Maroma by Karisma, Mexico

Move over, Maldives. Mexico’s now got its own over-water bungalow resort, and it’s out of this world. The adults-only enclave has 30 plafitos (stilt houses) on a secluded stretch of the Riviera Maya. As with most resorts there’s a glass-bottom floor, infinity plunge pool, outdoor shower, 24-hour butler and a ladder that leads into the sea. But, the design is the opposite of cookie-cutter: dark zapote wood from the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexican white granite and roofs made with thatched palm leaves.

Song Saa Private Island Koh Rong, Cambodia All-Inclusive Resorts Hotels Luxury Travel water Boat Nature Sea Coast reef marina Lake aerial photography River channel dock green waterway cove shore lined Island promontory  Song Saa Private Island Koh Rong, Cambodia Hotels house building porch home daylighting lighting living room outdoor structure cottage

Song Saa Private Island Koh Rong, Cambodia Hotels tree property swimming pool home Resort backyard Courtyard wooden cottage Villa outdoor structure stone

 

Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

Lush rain forest, pristine beaches, and colorful reefs are just some of the reasons we love this Cambodian getaway set on two private islands along the Gulf of Thailand. Song Saa’s 27 waterfront villas are done up with natural materials (beach driftwood and recycled timber from old fishing boats) as well as handcrafted furnishings by local artisans. Split your time between the yoga and meditation center, infinity pool, spa, and snorkeling sites.

Pangkor Laut Resort Lumut, Malaysia Hotels tree water palm Beach night palm family arecales evening woody plant plant lighting dusk sunlight lined surrounded sandy shore

Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia

Nestled on a private 300-acre isle in Malaysia, Pangkor Laut Resort is a true tropical oasis. Its 43 posh over-water suites feature massive sundecks and over-sized bathtubs that look out over the azure sea. And around the resort, there’s four restaurants, two outdoor swimming pools, and a private beach to continue the bliss

COMO Cocoa Island Cocoa Island, Maldives Beauty Hotels News Trip Ideas sky water Beach Sea shore Ocean watercraft sand surfboard surfing equipment and supplies Boat wind wave sailing vessel day   COMO Cocoa Island Cocoa Island, Maldives Hotels sofa swimming pool property building Resort cottage Villa eco hotel

COMO Cocoa Island Cocoa Island, Maldives Hotels water pier sky chair scene umbrella blue Sea Ocean Beach cloud Pool Coast caribbean Island empty swimming lined shade

Cocoa Island by COMO, Maldives

Cocoa Island is the ultimate romantic escape for couples and honeymooners. Here, privacy is paramount: the dhoni boat-inspired suites are spaced 24 feet apart, a personal butler caters to your every need, and the South Indian cuisine can be delivered straight to your bungalow (meaning there’s no reason to leave). There’s also an over-water Como Shambhala spa if you want to watch the fish while you get a massage for two.

Cheval Blanc Randheli Randheli Island, Maldives Hotels sky swimming pool property leisure house Resort Villa home condominium mansion stone Island

Cheval Blanc Randheli Maldives

We try not to pick favorites, but it’s pretty damn hard to top the elegant ++Cheval Blanc Randheli++. Owned by the same French firm that represents high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Moët & Chandon, luxury is in every detail. Starchitect Jean-Michel Gathy, who designed the stunning Aman properties, dreamt up the 46 villas in a blend of clean contemporary style and traditional Maldivian craftsmanship. The airy open-plan abodes have cathedral ceilings, Vincent Beaurin artwork, plus sliding glass walls that open onto a glam sundeck and 40-foot slate infinity pool. Other posh perks: lagoon-side pontoons, a seaplane chauffeur, Guerlain spa treatments, a hammam, Leonor Greyl hair salon and beauty studio, plus three bars and five restaurants, including Le 1947’s tasting menu fare courtesy of three-Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno.

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa Hadahaa Island, Maldives Beachfront Hotels Luxury Play Pool Resort Scenic views tree sky swimming pool leisure property building marina condominium Sea caribbean dock Ocean arecales Beach home Villa Lagoon palm Deck shore sign

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa has all the trappings of an upscale island retreat. The 50 breezy bungalows have high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and minimalist decor (think: white stone, chunky black furniture and native wood). When hunger strikes, there’s the Island Grill, a toes-in-the-sand spot with a wood-burning oven. But most of your days will be spent snorkeling at the 30 dive sites nearby (a resident marine biologist can also give tours) as well as indulging in an indigenous treatment at the Vidhun Spa.

 

Within the Alamo

Within the Alamo

He drew a straight line
Across the dirt floor:
Within, it was death-still–
Without, was a roar
And a scream of the trumpets:
Within, was a Word–
And a line drawn clean
By the sweep of a sword.
No help was coming, now–
That hope was done.
No more the free air,
no more the sun
Bright on the blue leagues
Of buffalo-clover.
Travis drew a line
And they all crossed over.
Travis had a wife at home,
Travis was young;
Travis had a little boy
Whose tight arms clung,
But Travis saw a far light
Shining before:
Travis drew a sword-cut
Across the dirt floor.

And now the old fort stands
Placid and dim,
Blinking and dreaming
Of them and of him;
And now past the Plaza
Other tides roar,
since Travis wrote “Valor”
Across the sand floor,
And the guns they will rust,
And the captains will go,
And an end come at last
To the wars that we know,
But as long as there travails
A Spirit in man,
In a war that was ancient
Before Time began,
Here will the brave come
To read a high Word–
Cut clean in the dust
By the stroke of a sword.