How Gratitude Can Change Your Life This Thanksgiving

TIME

My family emigrated from Russia to the United States when I was 13 years old. Refugee camps, city housing projects, food stamps, wearing donated clothes, being made fun of endlessly for everything from not speaking English to eating weird things for lunch (hot dogs apparently need to only be consumed inside hot dog buns, not sliced and slipped between pieces of dark brown bread): that’s the patchwork of memories my early life here is made of.

While we were almost entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers during that time, the stress and trauma we felt obliterated any notion of gratitude: when you’re just trying to survive, thankfulness seems like a luxury, not a coping strategy. For me, surviving the pain of that experience was all about coping, and my coping strategy was laser-focused on one goal: becoming happy. Really happy. It was an immigrant’s dream: The American Dream. Achieve…

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