7 Things I Am Grateful For This Thanksgiving


This Thanksgiving weekend, let’s reflect and be thankful for the many things that have brought joy to our lives! Digging through a year-worth of laughter and tears, I realized that there is a lot more to the Thanksgiving spirit than just pumpkin pies and sweet potato casseroles. Feeling blessed and loved, I am grateful for:

1. The songs that transport me back in space and time

For me, every song is a time machine that takes me back to a specific memory from the past. “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran brings me back to high-school prom, “Drive” by Oh Wonder reminds me of my first midnight drive down Highway One, and “Haunted” by Beyonce puts me back on stage the night of my first dance showcase. A 2009 study in fact found that regions of the brain linked to emotions and memories are activated by familiar music, as the brain tracks tonal progression while encoding memories. [1] Realizing this association, I’ve developed a habit of creating a playlist for every new city I travel to and playing it on repeat. When I listen to the music now, it feels like I am walking down memory lane. 

2. The few extra minutes before my morning alarm goes off

Waking up without an alarm on a school day gives me anxiety, but there’s nothing better than realizing that there is yet another five minutes before the alarm actually goes off. Thanks to my consistent sleep schedule and the KDM5A gene–better known as the alarm clock gene–not only does my body get its finely tuned wake-up call, but my mood also enlightens as I get to peacefully enjoy another few minutes of coziness before I kick start my morning. [2]

3. Spontaneous therapeutic art sessions

Whenever I feel stressed, I resort to art as my go-to therapist. A 2017 Harvard study reported that expression through art can help to reduce anxiety and battle other neurological diseases. [3] Whether it be an air-dry ceramic clay destresser or a ‘Bob Ross’-esque painting session, I often find myself fully engaged in the creation process, appreciating the texture of the clay rose and the colorful strokes of the LA sunset. It is during moments like these that I stop and think about how beautiful life truly is—even during the worst times. 

4. Peaceful nights in nature, unplugged from LA’s hustle and bustle

Last spring break I went on a nature getaway to spend a night in the sleepy forest of Epson, New Hampshire. One cabin, one fire pit, fresh linens, a phone lockbox, some essential cookware, and a pack of marshmallows with chocolate and crackers were all we had. Secluded but refreshed, I enjoyed my temporary respite in nature and a night filled withof s’mores, great conversation, and the sound of “American Pie” playing in the background.

5. The kindness of a stranger

A lot of the times we underestimate how sweet a simple “Have a good day!” or a 50-cent coffee could be. A couple weeks ago, I walked into a cafe, not knowing it had a cash-only system. Since I had no cash, the cashier offered to pay for my coffee and insisted that I didn’t have to pay him back, simply saying “Have a good day!” as he smilingly handed me my coffee. I felt so heartwarmed and rejuvenated—not from the dark brew coffee, but from the unexpected kindness and care from someone I’ve never met. The coffee was bitter, but my heart was so warm and full.

6. Surprisingly deep conversations with people I haven’t spoken to in a while

As the quarter went on, I realized just how difficult it is to keep in touch with all my friends. The ‘soon’ in “Let’s catch up soon!” usually does not end up coming true. But the few conversations I had with people who I haven’t spoken to in months actually turned out to be some of the deepest. This made me realize that friendship is more indestructible than what we think; it operates on a different time scale, one that is not defined by how much time has actually passed. I don’t know when exactly we will have another 3-hour conversation, but I am still grateful because I know that, when we do find the time to meet again, our conversation will be great.

7. Calls from my parents during stressful times 

Living thousands of miles away from home, I’ve grown to be very independent and part of it means learning how to handle my emotions on my own. At times, I find myself bottling up my feelings and just saying “I’m fine”. However, being away from home doesn’t mean that I don’t have a support system–I can still turn to my parents for comfort and advice over a simple phone call. During a time when I felt trapped in self-doubt and stress, that one conservation with my mom not only forced out the tears I’ve been holding back, but also made me realize that I can always share my vulnerability with my family. I will be strong again, but it is comforting, for a moment, to imagine having mom’s shoulder by my side and just let it all out.

Thanksgiving is about spending time with friends, family, and, of course, eating good food. In our often overbooked lives, it is important to take a moment to slow down, take a deep breath, and just appreciate all the little moments, especially during this time of the year of blessings and festivities. 


  1. “Study Finds Brain Hub That Links Music, Memory and Emotion.” ucdavis.edu. (2009).

  2.  “If You Always Wake up Right Before Your Alarm Goes Off, There’s a Scientific Explanation Why.” msn.com. (2019).

  3. “The Healing Power of Art.” health.harvard.edu. (2017).

more in be well