Commander's Thanksgiving message: The power of gratitude

  • Published
  • By Col. Jeffrey Holland
  • 75th Air Base Wing commander
Thanksgiving is among my favorite times of year because of the message it carries. It reminds us to take time for gratitude in our lives. In the chaos of the world, taking even a moment to pause and express gratitude can feel like a radical act of rebellion. Gratitude isn't just a fleeting emotion or a polite response; it's a powerful force that can transform our mental landscape, deepen our sense of belonging, and make our communities thrive.

Taking time for thanks is critical to our mental health. Gratitude is a magic elixir for the mind, a potion that, when consumed regularly, can spark joy even in the darkest corners of our thoughts. When we express thanks, whether silently in our minds or loudly to the world, we shift our focus from what we lack to what we have. It's a subtle yet seismic shift that nudges our perspective toward the positive.

Giving thanks actually changes our brains’ chemistry. Gratitude releases dopamine and serotonin, the brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, creating a buffer against stress and anxiety. It's like a mental hug, a gentle reminder that, amidst the hustle, there are pockets of good in our lives.

Gratitude also unites us in powerful ways. When we express thanks, we uplift ourselves and those around us. It has a ripple effect that turns mundane interaction into moments of genuine connection. Gratitude builds bridges of connections.

It also impacts our sense of belonging. When we take a moment to thank someone, we're saying, "I see you. You matter. You matter to me." In a society that can sometimes feel isolating, this simple act of recognition creates a sense of belonging. It's the difference between being a face in the crowd and feeling like a part of something greater.

Communities, whether small circles of friends or vast online networks, thrive on the currency of gratitude. When we exchange thanks, we make people feel appreciated and valued. It's the secret sauce that turns a group of individuals into a supportive community. When we take the time and make the effort to let the individuals in our communities know we appreciate them, our communities’ connection and commitment will soar.

So, this Thanksgiving, fight back against the chaos and noise in our lives—Be thankful and say “thank you.” As we do so, let’s remember and be thankful for the courage and sacrifice of those Airmen who are spending this weekend far from home and the families observing the holidays with their Airman absent. Only those who have experienced such times—deployed or at home—can truly understand and appreciate that experience.

I am grateful for my and my family’s opportunity to serve alongside you and yours. Thank you for your daily acts of excellence that propel Team Hill’s missions forward and make our assignments at Hill AFB meaningful and memorable.