Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope if you are reading this that you are either soon to enjoy a holiday meal, or have already done so, and are now settling in to relax. Either way, my good wishes for you are heartfelt. I am so grateful for your continued support and although we communicate digitally, I consider you to be friends.
When I sat down to write this post, I had been thinking about how I would define gratitude, or thankfulness, and thought I might write about it a bit differently than you might expect.


Dr. Robert Emmons is considered one of the world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude, and says that first, gratitude is “an affirmation of goodness”, and second, it is  the recognition that the source of goodness is outside of ourselves.  So basically, we are encouraged after “getting”, to then “give”. This makes gratitude a relationship strengthening emotion. But it isn’t always easy to be thankful.


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Here’s the rub. Our brain stores memories, but it has a preference when scanning them, for negative ones. Bummer. Negative experiences can definitely have benefits. Losses can open the heart, anger can show us the way to righting something, etc. We shouldn’t suppress negative experiences, but we should try and find the the positive within that experience. Why?



Because your brain cannot store everything. It is selective. We want positive associations with even negative recall. By practicing gratitude or thankfulness beyond Thanksgiving day, and on a regular basis, we give our brains the opportunity to change. The brain is capable of gradually shifting the “emotional shadings” of our memory recall to a better frame of mind. This takes place down in the itty, bitty, micro-circuitry of the brain. Amazing!



So if we keep working on being thankful, when we recall other memories, even negative ones, it will tend to bring the positive associations with it. Dr.Emmons states that for every time “you sift positive feelings and views into painful, limiting states of mind, you build a little bit of neural structure. Over time, the accumulating impact of this positive material will literally, synapse, by synapse, change your brain”.


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These benefits apply to children as well. In particular, taking in the good has a special payoff for kids at either the spirited or the anxious end of the temperament spectrum. Spirited children usually zip along to the next thing before good feelings have a chance to consolidate in the brain, and anxious children tend to ignore or downplay good news. (And some kids are both spirited and anxious.) Whatever their temperament, if children are part of your life, encourage them to pause for a moment at the end of the day (or at any other natural interval, such as the last minute before the school bell) to remember what went well and think about things that make them happy (e.g., a pet, their parents’ love, a goal scored in soccer). Then have those positive feelings and thoughts sink in.  source


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So, given the bias towards negativity that the brain has, it will take an active effort to internalize positive experiences. Focusing what happens to us, developing an awareness for feeling thankfulness, will increase the positive emotions flowing through your brain. And all this means a stronger immune system, a heart that deals with stress better, increasing resilience and more. There really is no downside to being thankful.



Happy Thanksgiving from Charisse & Whitley


I can only thank you all again for opening yourselves to whatever shows up on this blog. I love designing, whether for a home, or the garden. I love that I can share my experiences and projects with you. Today, Thanksgiving Day, I always reflect on the good that has come my way. And over the years, when I go back and browse an old gratitude journal, I really do experience those emotions again as I read about the book a dear friend sent that became a favorite to be re-read again and then shared, about a dog that brought such incredible laughter into the household, and so on and so on. I share this because this has been a challenging year for so many, and I think we can all do with a bit of remembering the pieces of joy that come in snips and bits throughout our days. Enjoy today. I will be cooking, watching the Macy’s parade and of course the National Dog Show. laters, charisse

A good read if so inclined  Buddha’s Brain, the practical neuroscience of happiness, love & wisdom by Rick Hanson, PH.D., & Richard Mendus, MD


  1. Just beautiful, Charisse. And, by the way, Whitley looks beautiful as always. Have you ever read The Art of Racing in the Rain? Phenomenal book about a man’s connection with his dog.

    • Thanks Laurie, Yes, I have read the book. I was given it as an audible gift and listened to it during a couple of road trips. Really, really enjoyed it. There is a movie coming in late January called “A Dog’s Purpose” I think along the same lines. Here’s a link to the trailer ” A Dog’s Purpose”

  2. I’m in love with Whitney. What breed is Whitney? You make a perfect pair!

    • Happy Thanksgiving Bev. I wish I could tell you what breed Whitley is. After living with her for 6 years now, my best guess is Collie/Schnauzer/??? mix. Her coat is now almost to the ground. I will do her DNA soon, as I am super curious myself.She has an interesting story, a shelter dog, and I will share it in a post as I have had many inquiries about her. Thank you so much for your sweet comment. Enjoy the holidays. charisse

  3. Charisse, today’s post on thanks-giving, gratitude and awareness, is profound. Thank YOU so much for sharing these life affirming suggestions. I’ll place an order today for Buddha’s Brain.
    I’ve always been fascinated by how gratitude can shape a person’s life. My mother was my inspiration and guide to living a life centered around gratitude. I shall pass on this post in honor of you, and in memory of her–Rosemary Secrest Stotler.

    • Holiday greetings Sally, Thank you for your comment. How fortunate that you had your Mother to teach you that lesson, a blessing indeed. I feel honored that you are choosing to share this post, and especially in the same company as your Mom.Let me know if you have a chance, about how you like the Buddha’s Brain book. Enjoy the holiday.charisse

  4. I am so thankful that I have you, in my life, precious friend. Though we haven’t seen each other in years, and sometimes go many weeks without speaking, we can jump right in with a 2 hour plus conversation and catch each other up as though time never mattered. Have a wonderful thanksgiving to you and Keith.

    • Thank you Carole. I feel the same way. We met through rescuing Newfoundland’s and though we ended up moving far apart, the friendship endured. I wish you and your family a healthy and happy holiday. charisse

  5. Happy Thanksgivng Charisse and Keith.

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