Holthouse on ‘Rewriting the Story’ and Being Thankful

It's the Thanksgiving holiday.


The streets are quiet this morning. The air is crisp and clear.

The birds are singing — not a symphony as in the springtime when they're coming back to life from a long winter. But taking turns, singing a cappella, which is just as lovely, only a little calmer, a little more subtle. It's a nice soundtrack for contemplating a unique holiday in an even more unique year.

Surely, not as many people have hit the road for travels. My guess is that, like me, many are opting to stay close to home, avoiding public transportation, avoiding crowds, avoiding the virus attacking our world at a continuing and alarming rate.

But as Jonathan Adler, a professor of psychology and a 9/11 scholar on victim's life stories and wellbeing, says, "Happiness can be found by constructing a good story and then living your way into it." And I firmly believe that thankfulness is a direct prologue to a happy life.

For this special week in which our entire country — regardless of race, religion or creed — is celebrating Thanksgiving, I propose we take a moment to focus on thankfulness and happiness.

I keep an interesting book at my bedside and pick it up here and there before falling asleep. The World Book of Happinessis a book project composed of more than 100 of the world's leading experts in positive psychology, from 50 different countries, addressing what they have learned about happiness. Adler, aforementioned, is one of the American scholars highlighted. He proposes that "the stories we craft about are lives are just that — stories." So it reminds me that I am in control of my own story, my own happiness. I believe it all starts with gratitude and being thankful for what I have, even in the wake of what our world has been telling us throughout 2020.

If you're working too hard and it's getting you down, be thankful that you have a job at a time when people are losing them due to Covid closures. If you're blue about your Thanksgiving trip having to cancel, be thankful as you are reminded that Houston weather November through May is spectacular. Get out and breathe it in. Go to the Memorial Park Eastern Glades and take a stroll. Do something to appreciate our great city.

I implore you to just be thankful, even in the minutia. Do as I often do: Pull out a journal and write what you're thankful for, even if it's for something as simple as a wave that you receive from an otherwise unfriendly neighbor.

I rewrite my story whenever I start feeling unhappy, and I often find that my mood is uplifted instantly. As we have all heard for years, happiness is a journey, not a destination. So during this Thanksgiving journey, I plan to spend as much of my day giving thanks as I can. This will be my own version of a happiness project, starting with this very moment, as I connect with you and ask you to share in this endeavor.


Let's give thanks together.

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