Each holiday season comes with high expectations for a cozy and festive time of year. However, for many this time of year is tinged with sadness, anxiety, or depression. And honestly, most of us have moments where we just feel lost, overwhelmed, or down during this busy time. Luckily, one aspect of the Thanksgiving season can actually lift spirits, and it’s built right into the holiday — being grateful.


The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.


In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. It helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.


Gratitude also helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.


What are you grateful for this holiday season?


“Every morning I thank the good Lord that I have another day of life. I’m grateful for my beautiful wife and I am thankful for all of the fun stuff we do here at the COA.” ~ John Nelson


“I am thankful that I live in America and for the COA. I am so thankful for my wonderful family and friends.” ~ Helga Richards


“I am so thankful to have a COA in Dowagiac and for the great ² tness classes that Ky’sha teaches.” ~ Bernadette Pratl


“I am grateful for so many things. I am happy to wake up everyday with a smile, thankful that I am able to help people in need like delivering Meals on Wheels and Church activities, and I am so grateful that I am able to babysit my beautiful grandchildren.” ~ John Bradke


“We are so grateful to have met each other in the ² tness room and are thankful for the deep friendships we have made with one another.” ~ Ellen Kingsley, Marty Kleva, Annie Kleva, Karen Behnke & Bill Behnke (not pictured Frank & Dottie Petriko)


“I am grateful to live inside the Dowagiac city limits so I can ride the bus to the COA for lunch, bingo, euchre, chess and all the other fun stuff I do here.” ~ Dennis Kelly


“I am grateful for my health, my family, and that I am able to help others.” ~ Kathy Yoder



Kelli Casey, Director of Community Development