Categories for Thankfulness

Heads or Tail (Feathers)? Successes and Failures – Tell Us About Your Thanksgiving Celebrations

Recently, I wrote about humor in the workplace and thought it would be good to put some of the principles in action. And Thanksgiving seemed like a good time to ask about and share some successes and “fails” people have experienced over the years. While the Thanksgiving holiday and giving gratitude at work are important, I personally have become a little worn down by all of the reminders to “be sure and tell your colleagues you are thankful for them.” (If you do want something in that vein, read this past entry from our blog.) Let’s agree that is a... Continue reading...

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November 8, 2021 9:00 am
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Thinking Ahead: Ways to Avoid a Thanksgiving “Downer”

Thanksgiving is coming up next week and the holiday has been in the news due to the impact the COVID-19 virus is having on our lives. I will leave the practical suggestions on how to make a holiday gathering safe to the medical experts (for those of you who choose to get together with family and friends). I want to present some thoughts and suggestions that you should consider before planning your holiday celebration — in hopes of helping you think clearly about the options you are considering and giving you ways to avoid experiencing a depressing Thanksgiving Day. First,... Continue reading...

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November 16, 2020 9:00 am
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Spring and the Importance of Newness in Our Lives

Spring is late in coming in my part of the country. The mornings have been cold; the days are often cloudy and dreary. And Spring – the vibrancy and newness of life – has been put on hold across the country due to shelter in place and social distancing policies. Being able to get out and about, get together with friends and family, and go “do something” has been essentially written out of our lives. As a result, many people feel stagnant. Bored. Unstimulated. All of which can lead to depression and irritability. These feelings, coupled with the underlying anxiety... Continue reading...

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April 20, 2020 9:00 am
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Why Relational Connection Is So Important During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the need for social distancing, quarantine and isolation so that vulnerable individuals are not exposed to the virus and healthcare systems are not overwhelmed. Collectively, we understand the goodness of “flattening the curve” by each of us doing our part to slow the spread of the virus. COVID-19 is not the only epidemic we are facing. Separating ourselves because of COVID-19 comes at a time when America and many other nations are in the midst of an epidemic of loneliness whose antidote is greater positive social connection. Our current situation—the simultaneous need... Continue reading...

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April 13, 2020 9:00 am
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Understanding and Managing Anxiety

Life in the twenty-first century is often colored by anxiety— not major, life-crippling anxiety, but those small, little worries about daily life activities and events. And now, with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, anxiety has been brought front and center for many of us. If we don’t take steps to combat it, anxiety can rule our days and distract us from the things we need and want to be doing. Defining Anxiety First and foremost, anxiety is fear. We are afraid we are going to become sick. We worry about our financial future. We are concerned about what... Continue reading...

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March 30, 2020 3:11 pm
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Happy Thanksgiving from Appreciation at Work

Dr. Paul White and the staff at Appreciation at Work would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. As we draw nearer the holiday this year, we wanted to share an excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation establishing Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. ********** “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to... Continue reading...

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November 25, 2019 9:00 am
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Steps to Meaningful Affirmation

To affirm someone is to say something positive about someone directly to him or her. It is about saying something positive to the person about who he or she is. Or, it could be thanking someone for something he or she has done for you. Think of someone who has done something special for you. Maybe you think the person knows you appreciate the favor, but maybe you’ve never actually told him or her. Consider affirming that person directly, and see what happens. Let’s explore how to do that. Remove insincere phrases. First, remove phrases in your affirmation like “I... Continue reading...

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September 16, 2019 9:00 am
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Making Your Vacation Work for You: The 4 R’s

Labor Day is often seen as the unofficial end of summer, a last chance to spend time with family and friends before school shifts into full gear and autumn sweeps in. While the three-day weekend doesn’t afford as much time as a full summer vacation, it can still provide valuable time for a mental reset that can be beneficial to you both personally and professionally. Getting away from your home and your daily routine and responsibilities provides a needed mental break necessary to rejuvenate and re-energize. The Four R’s Rest. Try to schedule your vacation activities in a way that allows... Continue reading...

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August 26, 2019 8:55 am
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Memorial Day: What Are We Remembering and Why?

Memorial Day in the U.S. represents a variety of things to different people: A day off of work The beginning of summer Going to the lake Having a barbeque with friends and family The Indianapolis 500 Visiting family gravesites Veterans parades and celebrations Watching war movies For me, especially when getting together with children, teenagers & young adults, I start to wonder — what does Memorial Day mean to them? In some ways, maybe it doesn’t matter — “it is what it is” and it is their life. But, in other ways, I believe gathering together is important — for if we are not... Continue reading...

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May 23, 2019 10:23 am
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What Employees Love & Hate about the Holidays

There are many factors to how holidays are handled in the workplace. Work schedules and demands, time off, decorations, and holiday parties all factor into how the season is incorporated into an office space and received by the employees who work there. Last year, we polled our readers to find out what they loved and hated about holidays in the workplace. We received nearly 3,000 responses! We explored both the good AND the bad because, well, that’s life! While we attempt to focus on the positive and provide hope for improving workplaces, we are also committed to being reality-based. So,... Continue reading...

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December 3, 2018 8:55 am
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Thanksgiving Is Actually Healthy For You: The Benefits of Gratitude

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, there are numerous columns and articles discussing various aspects of the holiday (almost too many!)  But we would like to take the opportunity to bring attention to the overall benefits to our lives of having a thankful attitude.  (This information may be some you want to share with others.) In his bestselling book, What Happy People Know¹, Dr. Dan Baker (who is the director of the well-known wellness program at Canyon Ranch in Arizona) states that appreciation is the single most important tool in developing an enjoyable life. Additionally, social scientists who have studied the impact... Continue reading...

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November 19, 2018 9:00 am
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Out of the Rut

Have you ever felt like you were in a rut or experiencing a particularly low point in your life? It’s times like these when we feel down, hopeless and stuck. This can run the spectrum of significance, such as being bored at work to grieving the death of a family member or friend, but the symptoms are the same. We become disengaged and cannot fully focus or show up with our best selves. The key to getting out of a rut is self-care, even when that feels like your lowest priority and the last thing you have time for. But... Continue reading...

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August 13, 2018 9:00 am
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Hurricane Harvey – 5 Potential Reasons Why We Don’t Respond (& How to Get Past Them)

The devastation of Hurricane Harvey is massive — and is evident in numerous ways: water damage to homes and businesses, loss of personal belongings, displaced individuals and families, 300,000+ cars left unusable, businesses not able to do business, schools shut down, nursing home residents moved… the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, the sheer size and impact of Harvey actually creates some dynamics that makes it more likely that people (including you and me) won’t respond to the vast needs created. How can that be? Why would we be less likely to give some form of aid (monetary aid, donations... Continue reading...

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September 5, 2017 1:15 pm
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Don’t Love Your Work? Relax, You’re Normal

    Do you love your work? In some circles, this is the expectation—that you should love your work and if you don’t, there is something wrong (with you or your job). But I’m here to proclaim: If you don’t love your work, relax. You are normal. This is true not only for the present developed world, but also for the vast majority of the workers across the world today, and especially when you consider the human experience over history. It is a privilege and a blessing to enjoy your work—but being enthralled with what you do is not normative;... Continue reading...

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February 9, 2017 12:37 pm
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The Most Important Factor for a Pleasant Family Holiday Celebration

As we all approach the Christmas holiday, many people’s anxiety level is rising.  Why?  Because we are starting to think about the upcoming visit with our family.  You may be going to your parents’ home (or your in-laws’) or family members are coming to your home, or you may gather at one of your (or your spouse’s) siblings homes.  Regardless of the specifics, it means — you are going to have to spend time with your family (and yes, possibly even interact with them!) So, being the good psychologist I am, I thought I would address the most important factor... Continue reading...

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December 22, 2016 7:00 am
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Utilizing Thanksgiving as a Reminder to Appreciate Your Staff

Thanksgiving is the holiday where we are encouraged to be thankful for the good things in our lives – health, safety, adequate food, clothing, and shelter, as well as the many material blessings we have. For most people, Thanksgiving is usually more of a personally-focused celebration, including sharing meals and time with family and friends. But the Thanksgiving holiday season can also be an opportunity to focus on, and be reminded of, the positive aspects of our work lives. This is especially true in these more difficult economic times, where many who desire employment are unable to find work or... Continue reading...

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November 21, 2016 8:00 am
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Don’t Be a Turkey in How You Show Appreciation this Thanksgiving

Team leaders are often encouraged (“bombarded” is actually a better word) to communicate appreciation to colleagues during the Thanksgiving holiday season. Expressing thanks for a job well done is sure to be received well, right? Not necessarily. At times, clueless managers are at risk for saying “thanks” in ways that won’t be received well. They don’t really “get” appreciation and what the big deal is – but they try anyway, and often their actions seriously miss the mark and actually wind up being offensive. Here are some actions to avoid: The “I’m off. You’re not. Enjoy the weekend!” message. This... Continue reading...

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November 15, 2016 8:00 am
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Revisiting the Meaning of “Vacation”

In the summer months, I often reflect on the idea of “vacation” — what it is, what it means, and often what it has come to mean in our culture. First, vacation means “to vacate” — to leave, to get out of here, to get away from your daily setting and responsibilities.  As my wife has commented, she gets a different perspective on life when she gets away from the daily routine.  Even if you are in a tight financial situation, getting away for a few days to a cheap cabin close-by can be sufficient. Next, vacation implies that you aren’t working.  You... Continue reading...

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August 7, 2016 3:42 pm
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“Just For Show” (with No Substance): When Appreciation Fails

While watching a movie, you’ll notice it before you can put it into words — something seems very off about a character and it immediately sets you on edge. They claim to be a fierce warrior but run and hide whenever a fight breaks out. You’re pulled out of the fantasy and can finally describe why – their actions don’t match their words. Though life isn’t a big screen production, we can still easily notice when others show us false appreciation rather than actual appreciation for a job well done. Social Awareness Body language developed long before oral language, making... Continue reading...

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July 11, 2016 6:56 pm
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Customer Appreciation Gives Business Owners the Advantage

How do you feel when someone genuinely appreciates you for your input or effort? It feels nice and warm, doesn’t it? That’s the kind of feeling you want customers and clients to associate with you. As a business owner, chances are you will perform a lot of the business’ tasks yourself, so you’ll probably relate with a lot more people than if you had a team working for you. You don’t need to be reminded of the importance of keeping customers happy. However, in the midst of all the tasks and appointments you have to keep, you might forget to... Continue reading...

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March 25, 2016 7:00 am
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Perspective – How it Shapes Our Daily Lives

The importance of perspective is becoming more clear to me all the time. Perspective implies a viewpoint — a place from which we are looking at our lives and the world around us. Pick a specific spot, a physical location, that you have been to in your life. It could be a beautiful vista overlooking the Grand Canyon, the top of a mountain in Colorado, at the bottom of a valley next rushing mountain river, or hiking in the fall foliage of Vermont. Now, change your perspective — look at that spot from an airplane 30,000 feet above it —... Continue reading...

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October 25, 2014 12:04 pm
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Why “My boss is a jerk!” Isn’t Reason Enough to Hate Your Job

Two common mantras in our culture today are: “I hate my job” and “My boss is a jerk.” While both statements may be true, hating your job because your boss is a jerk isn’t going to lead anywhere good. According to Gallup, more than half of the U.S. workforce (or about 70 million employees) either are just enduring their job or actively hate where they work. With that level of dissatisfaction, it’s no surprise that we hear so many negative comments – either in personal conversations, through social media or the mainstream media. In other words, If you don’t like your job, welcome to... Continue reading...

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July 21, 2014 7:19 pm
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Do 70 Million Workers Really Hate their Jobs?

     This past week headlines of newspapers, website posts, and the talking heads on TV screamed about how U.S. employees hate their jobs (and that it is the fault of their managers).  Here are some actual titles: Millions of Bad Managers Are Killing America’s Growth (The Chairman’s Blog) Workplace Morale Heads Down: 70% of Americans negative about their jobs   (Subtitled: “Bosses from hell’ are giving U.S. Worker the Monday blues.)  (NY Daily News) Most Americans hate their jobs or have ‘checked out’ (LA Times) So the headlines and news reports went last week, about a recent report released by Gallup... Continue reading...

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January 2, 2014 8:19 am
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Why Authenticity is All You Need During the Holidays

We all feel a lot of pressure regarding things we “should do” during the holidays — for our family, friends, co-workers, clients, boss.  It gets to the point that the expectations feel overwhelming, and the temptation is just to “shut down” and do nothing (for anyone!)  This is typically not a good solution. Let me offer an alternative solution to you: be yourself.  Be genuinely you during the holidays.   Don’t try to impress people.  Don’t do things just to “look good” or because “you are supposed to”. Let me explain.  There is more than enough “image management” going on in... Continue reading...

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December 5, 2013 11:16 pm
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Utilizing Thanksgiving as a Reminder to Appreciate Your Staff

Thanksgiving is the holiday where we are encouraged to be thankful for the good things in our lives – health, safety, adequate food, clothing, and shelter, as well as the many material blessings we have. For most people, Thanksgiving is usually more of a personally-focused celebration, including sharing meals and time with family and friends.But the Thanksgiving holiday season can also be an opportunity to focus on, and be reminded of, the positive aspects of our work lives. This is especially true in these more difficult economic times, where many who desire employment are unable to find work or have... Continue reading...

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November 17, 2011 12:43 pm
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What are we remembering — and why?

Memorial Day in the U.S. represents a variety of things to different people: A day off of work (possibly even paid!) The beginning of summer Going to the lake Having a barbeque with friends and family Having to get together with family The Indianapolis 500 Visiting family gravesites Veterans parades and celebrations Watching old war flicks For me, especially when getting together with children, teenagers & young adults, I start to think about — what does Memorial Day mean to them?  In some ways, maybe it doesn’t matter — it is what it is and it is their life.  But,... Continue reading...

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May 30, 2011 3:27 pm
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Stars & 7 billion people

I recently have become more interested in and enamored with the stars.  I just received a book put out by National Geographic entitled Hubble: Imaging Space and Time with a lot of photos of stars, galaxies and nebulae from the Hubble telescope.  Although the following image isn’t from that book, it demonstrates the wonder I am finding in the stars. At the same time that I am contemplating the incomprehensible enormity of the universe, I also am becoming more aware of how many people there are on earth.  This month’s National Geographic title story is about the fact that the... Continue reading...

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January 12, 2011 8:36 am
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The Dreaded “B” Word: Busyness

OK, first things first.  I am a busy person. Currently, too busy.  (I am writing this as I sit on a plane flying to Chicago for a business meeting.)  So this is one of those entries where I call on the “psychologist’s privilege” of being able to expound on principles that I do not have implemented in my life yet.  The principles are true.  I’m just not consistently applying them. (Ask my wife) Busyness and the holidays seem to go hand-in-hand.  There is the “normal” busyness of life – work, family, home responsibilities, extended family, friends, leisure activities, and community... Continue reading...

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December 4, 2009 2:49 pm
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The Opposite(s) of Thanksgiving

We usually think of opposites in terms of a simple, “either-or” relationship — such as light and darkness, large and small, heavy and light. And these opposites exist on a single continuum, with the opposing characteristics being on the ends of the spectrum. But there are some relationships which are more complex, where there is more than one characteristic that can be opposite of another.  For example, in comparing a “good meal” with a bad one, there are different factors that can lead to that judgment. The quality of the basic ingredients, the correct amount of the ingredients, combining the... Continue reading...

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November 21, 2009 3:28 pm
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Healthy (and Less Healthy) Responses to the Economic Situation

As a psychologist, I naturally find myself observing people’s behavior — their choices, what they are saying, and how they are feeling.  And this is the case now, in the midst of the difficult economic times in which we find ourselves (I am consciously choosing not to use the term “financial crisis”.) There are three core aspects to any situation that involves human perception and response: Reality.  What actually “is” — the facts of the situation. (Using a non-related example: the temperature — which is about 30 degrees F. on a mid March day.) Perceptions. How people perceive, view, and... Continue reading...

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March 12, 2009 10:46 am
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