Thanksgiving: Know the “Three and Out” Gratitude Rule?

Ari Weinzweig Managing Ourselves from Zingermans

Click this cover to visit Zingerman’s webpage for the book.

Yesterday was a traditional day of giving thanks, but we’re surrounded by opportunities to express gratitude every day—if only we look for them.

For example, do you know the “three and out” rule?

Thanksgiving is our theme this week. So far, we’ve discussed how more Americans traveled yesterday than at any time since 2007, the rise of gigantic “mutant turkey” on the Thanksgiving menu, the cost of the holiday, and whether we should boycott big-box stores that were open Thanksgiving.

Today, we end the week with a positive practice about thankfulness. This positive practice comes from Ari Weinzweig, CEO and co-founder of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In his latest book, Managing Ourselves, he recounts the rule:

“When I feel my energy sliding into the negative realm, I find someone around me—whether in person, on the phone, or via email, and I thank them. Sincerely. For something that they’ve done that I honestly do appreciate. I always get back positive energy. Then I immediately find someone else and do it again. Bingo. I get back more positive energy. Within a matter of minutes, I repeat my act of appreciation a third time. Voila! More positive energy.”

Psychologists who study happiness uniformly report that the expression of gratitude elevates positive emotions—in the giver and the receiver. Ari’s “three and out” rule is a good way of putting that insight into practice.

Who or what are you grateful for?
Would you try the “three and out” rule and tell us what happened?

Your viewpoint is important!

You can leave a comment below. Or, you can talk with friends by using the blue-“f” Facebook or envelope-shaped email icons and asking friends to read this series with you. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them to spark discussion in your class or small group.

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Categories: Pursuit of Happines

Thanksgiving: Should we boycott Black Thursday?

Take the PBS poll on whether stores should open on Thanksgiving

CLICK on this PBS logo to take the poll on whether retailers should open on Thanksgiving. (NOTE: This poll may be another example of what I describe as “United America.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, many Americans are enjoying food, family, and friends, but some will be going to work. Big-box retailers like Target, Walmart, and Best Buy are open today. Do you think stores like these should be open on Thanksgiving? Or, should they be closed so employees can spend the holiday with their families? (There’s a poll you can take below.)

A few states ban stores from being open on Thanksgiving. Even without a ban, some big-box stores refuse to be open today: Costco, Marshalls, Barnes & Noble, GameStop, T. J. Maxx, and several others.

But other stores will be open: Walmart, Kmart, Sears, Macy’s, Sports Authority, and more. Many of these open at 5 PM or 6 PM today, but a few open bright and early.

Some shoppers like Black Thursday; some employees like the opportunity to earn holiday pay. But there’s also a social movement afoot to boycott stores that are open today. One of the most popular is “Boycott Black Thursday: Put Employees and Families First” on Facebook. It has over 80,000 fans. Its mission is clear: “On November 27th, boycott any retailer that chooses to extend massive Black Friday sales into Thanksgiving Day. Protect the employees, protect the family.”

I hop you will take the poll, courtesy of PBS: “Do you think retailers should remain open on Thanksgiving?”

Your options are:

  • “No, employees should be able to spend Thanksgiving at home.”
  • “Yes, it’s nice to have another option to Black Friday sales.”
  • “Unsure.”

Do you plan to go shopping today?
Do you think retailers should be banned from being open on major holidays, like Thanksgiving?

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Categories: Uncategorized

Thanksgiving: Is the holiday cheaper this year?

Vox website charts Thanksgiving inflation 2014

Click on this chart compiled by Vox to visit the Vox website and read the entire story about the relative cost of Thanksgiving dinner.

Gas prices are down, so if you’re driving this year, you’ll be spending a bit less on gas for your vehicle.

What about food? Is the cost of Thanksgiving dinner higher, lower, or about the same this year as last year?

It depends on what you’re having for dinner. Butter and margarine are a lot more expensive now than last year—16% higher, according to CPI data compiled by Vox. Steak and bacon are more expensive, too.

But a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year is less than 1% higher than it was last year. Compared to the cost of Thanksgiving dinner in the past, this year is about average. The lowest cost for Thanksgiving dinner occurred in 1987, about 15% cheaper than it is this time. Expensive years include 2011, 2007, and 1989.

Despite these holiday fluctuations, there’s been a long term decline in food spending over the decades, according to data by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Americans spent a much bigger share of their disposable incomes on food in the 1930s, 19040s, and 1950s than they do now.

Cheaper food doesn’t mean that millions of Americans are not going hungry. Over 49 million people lived in food insecure households in 2013, according to Feeding America. This includes almost 16 million children.

Are you spending less, more, or about the same on Thanksgiving this year, compared to last?

What’s happening in your community to alleviate hunger this season?

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You can share this with friends by using the blue-“f” Facebook or envelope-shaped email icons and asking friends to read this series with you. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them to spark discussion in your class or small group.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Thanksgiving: Is “mutant turkey” on the menu?

Turkeys in a turkey farm

A TYPICAL TURKEY FARM—This photo from Wikimedia Commons shows a flock of “Broad Breasted Whites,” the variety of modified turkeys that comprise the majority of Thanksgiving turkeys sold these days.

At the Thanksgiving table, what’s your choice: White or dark?

How about: Mutant?

Many Americans prefer white meat, and the nation’s poultry producers have learned how to breed large, fast-growing turkeys with lots of breast meat. In fact, today’s turkey is a giant compared to turkeys of yesteryear, reports Mother Jones.

In the 1930s, the average turkey weighed 13.1 pounds. This year, the average turkey weighs 29.8 pounds—and some male turkeys can weigh as much as 50 pounds.

That’s a lot of white meat!

Before the 1950s, the turkeys that found their way to the Thanksgiving dinner table were pretty much the same as wild turkeys. Since then, poultry farmers have breed turkeys to favor genetic traits for large size and fast growth. This results in more white meat, which consumers desire, but also produces birds that are so heavy they can’t support their own weight. Today’s giant turkeys are bowlegged and stooped. They are so big that natural reproduction isn’t possible and artificial insemination must be used.

What’s your opinion of factory farming?

To what extent do farming methods influence your consumption?

What choices do you make regarding Thanksgiving dinner?

Care to read more?

Each year, journalists report on the fate of turkeys nationwide. From an environmental perspective, you might want to read Mother Jones magazine’s first report this autumn, headlined “Butterball Goes ‘Humane for Thanksgiving. Really?“as well as the magazine’s more recent story, “Look How Much Bigger Thanksgiving Turkeys Are Today.” For an even deeper look into the farming and marketing of turkeys—with a stronger environmental slant—check out this story in the environmental magazine, The Grist, headlined “Calling Fowl: How to pick the most humane turkey for Thanksgiving.”

This is sure to spark conversation among family and friends, so … please …

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You can share this with friends by using the blue-“f” Facebook or envelope-shaped email icons and asking friends to read this series with you. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them to spark discussion in your class or small group.

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Categories: American Symbols

Thanksgiving: Are you traveling for the holiday?

AAA Thanksgiving Day travelers

Click on this graphic to visit AAA’s website where you can read the entire report about holiday travel.

Thanksgiving is this Thursday, an official federal holiday with roots in early harvest festivals, especially the one observed by the Pilgrims in 1621.

What are your plans for the holiday? Are you traveling this year to visit family and friends, or staying at home?

I’ll tell you our plans: We’re staying home for the first time in years.

What are other Americans doing this year? More Americans are traveling this Thanksgiving than last year. More than 46 million Americans will travel 50 fifty miles or more from home to spend time with family and friends, according to estimates from the American Automobile Association. This is 4.2% higher than last year, and it’s the highest volume since 2007.

Almost nine of ten travelers (89%) will go by car, according to AAA’s estimates. This is a 4.3% increase over last year. More than 3.5 million Americans will fly—the highest volume since 2007.

Thanksgiving is a popular holiday, but have you noticed that advertisers appear to have skipped it? We’re well into the (secularized, commercialized) Christmas season. The local Starbucks is decked out with colors, symbols, and slogans associated with the Christmas season—but they had nothing about Thanksgiving. The TV ads by car companies also appear to skip over Thanksgiving.

What, no money to be made hawking Thanksgiving?

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Are you traveling for the holiday—or staying at home?

Your viewpoint is important!

You can leave a comment below. Or, you can talk with friends by using the blue-“f” Facebook or envelope-shaped email icons and asking friends to read this series with you. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them to spark discussion in your class or small group.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Elections: Will the American experiment fail?

Voting booths in New Hampshire

PLENTY OF VOTING BOOTHS … NO WAITING. Mark Buck took this photo in New Hampshire and provided it for public use via Wikimedia Commons.

Our nation’s founders recognized that America was an experiment, and a fragile one at that. Throughout our history, astute observers and historians have noted that America continues to be an experiment. At this point in time, what’s your prediction? Is the experiment succeeding or failing?

Free elections are a mainstay of our democracy, and so this week we’ve discussed various features and implications of the November general election. We talked about which political party wants to make radical change in America and which one cares more about Americans (it’s the same party, by the way). We noted that Tea Party members are especially fearful of the threats of terrorism and Ebola. And we discussed the historically low voter turnout in this month’s election.

Today, we reflect on what this may mean for the American experiment.

There are many ways to reflect on this issue, and in this short post, I want to outline just two: low voter turnout and internal threats.

America had the first modern design for democracy, but we haven’t lived up to the potential. Once, Election Day was a celebration. Going to the polls was a heady, exciting, and solemn act.

But, as Howard Steven Friedman writes in The Measure of a Nation, we typically have lower voter turnout than other large, rich nations. Friedman’s findings show that Americans tend to be far behind countries such as Belgium, Australia, Spain, Netherlands and Japan. And in this recent election, we hit a new low in the exercise of our voting privileges.

The value of security refers to protection from internal and external threats. Tea Partiers, for example, fear the external threats of terrorism and Ebola, and the internal threat of “Big Government.” But there is another internal threat—one that Douglas Patterson noted in a comment this week: radical individualism. This is the core American value of self-reliance run amuck. It denies responsibility for anyone other than oneself.

What’s your verdict on the American experiment?
Are you concerned by the low voter turnout?
Have we become too self-reliant and inward looking?

Your viewpoint is important!

You can leave a comment below. Or, you can talk with friends by using the blue-“f” Facebook or envelope-shaped email icons and asking friends to read this series with you. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them to spark discussion in your class or small group.

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Categories: Critical Patriotism

Elections: Should children go to the polls?

American mother and daughter

An American mother and daughter talking. (Photo by “Marty” posted for public use via Wikimedia Commons.)

The turnout in November’s election was appalling, the lowest in over 70 years. Just over a third of eligible voters (34%) voted. Would the turnout have been better if more voters had gone to the polls when they were children?

No state had more than 60% of its eligible voters show up, notes the New York Times in its compilation of election results. Maine had the highest turnout (59%); Indiana had the lowest (28%). In 43 states, voter turnout was less than 50%.

Those who remember going to polls with their parents were more likely to vote, according to the post-election survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. Three of four (74%) Americans who recalled going to the polls with their parents said they voted on November 4th. About six of ten of Americans who said they didn’t go to the polls with their parents reported that they voted.

So, turnout might have been better if more Americans had gone to the ballot box with their parents. Of course, this is only one factor. But it’s a worthwhile one to remember especially when we think about the effects we have on our children.

Turnout in my home state of Michigan (almost 43%) was above the national average. I voted, but didn’t bring my son to the polls as I have done before. But I did make a point of bringing home my “I VOTED” sticker and affixed it to his music stand. I made sure he noticed that I had voted.

Should children go to the polls?
Do you recall going when you were a kid?
Do you (or did you) bring your children to the polls?

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Categories: Critical Patriotism