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Angus Skinner, MAPP, works in his beloved and beautiful Scotland as an independent management consulting professional. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde. He has over 40 years experience of social work services across the UK. As Chief Social Work Inspector for Scotland for 15 years, Angus provided advice directly to ministers on all matters of social work service legislation, policy, and practice development. Full bio. Articles on Positive Psychology News by Angus are here.

Harvest by Kevin Gillespie

by Kevin Gillespie

Europeans generally don’t celebrate Thanksgiving; we have important, though quieter harvest festivals, and we wish you North Americans ease.  Sitting between Diwalli (Hindu) and Christmas (pagan in its timing), the Thanksgiving celebration of harvest brought in rests well.   Celebrations matter in the rhythm of life.

Goodwill is the hallmark of autumnal and winter festivals across the world.  We don’t hibernate alone, as we might if we were bears; we huddle together – for warmth, for comfort, and for joy.

Joy was much under-rated at school, and frankly still is; she attends to emotions rather than practical achievements.  Christians will think of the Mary and Martha story but all faiths have parallels.  And all have celebrations and the days after; finding joy in the days after is engagement and meaning in life.

Positive emotions were much under-rated during the 20th century, and frankly still are.  But the world has changed.  Fear, including fear of ourselves, is being addressed.  It is good to celebrate the harvest of positive psychology, attained and growing.

Of course this harvest will barely provide for a year, as ever. We will have to work for another, and then again.  To optimize results would involve smoothing across the calendar (not because it makes sense, just because the arithmetic is easier for those who have not the patience for the maths).  Joseph’s dreams partly alert to the dangers yet provided ways forward; how we handled the harvests of the last decades will not serve for the future.  Applied positive psychology can help furnish the mentalities needed to turn the world.

Thanksgiving[see comment #1]  is, I guess, a time for family engagement (with all its embarrassments).  The morning after it is time for taking stock.

In taking stock for the future slowing down, savoring, enjoying, engaging, meaning, purpose, risking for others, being present with purpose – these seem better hallmarks than all the various me goals.

Helping change the world takes generosity of spirit in action, of which there is more than enough to produce next year’s harvest – if we do the work; if we do the work to let it grow, then it will flow.  Next year beckons.



Some historians argue that the plague eroded the celebration of thanksgiving in Europe; I agree.  Think on the Oxford English Dictionary quotes below in comment #1.

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive Psychology: An Introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14.

Gilbert, D. (2007). Stumbling on Happiness. New York: Vintage. See Chapter 7 – Time Bombs .

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Angus 19 November 2007 - 12:41 pm

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

Thanksgiving, a thanksgiving service for the ingathering of the harvest, at which the church is usually decorated with grain, fruit, etc.;

1573 TUSSER Husb. lvii. (1878) 132 In haruest-time, *haruest folke, Seruants and all should make, altogether, good cheere in the hall.

1597 GERARDE Herbal II. ciii. §4. 355 Calathian Violet..is called..of some *Haruestbels. 1860 N. & Q. 2nd Ser. X. 356 To ring what is called the ‘Harvest Bell’..to warn the labourers in the harvest fields when to begin and cease their labour.1697 DRYDEN Virg. Past. II. 10 *Harvest Hinds, o’erspent with Toil and Heats.

1648 HERRICK Hesper., Hock-cart 13 The *harvest swaines, and wenches bound For joy, to see the hock-cart crown’d.

1777 BRAND Pop. Antiq. (1849) II. 20 Not half a century ago, they used everywhere to dress up something..at the end of harvest which was called a *Harvest Doll.

Louise Lewis 21 November 2007 - 3:36 pm

Hello from California!
A Google Search served up your wonderful post and I just had to say thank you…not just because it’s Thanksgiving over here but because I love ‘connecting the dots’ with people who encourage others to slow down and take stock of their life. I look forward to nosing around your site!

take care,
Louise Lewis, Author
No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You!


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