As we gather around our tables this Thanksgiving Day, let us take a moment to reflect on the true spirit of this holiday. Originating from a harvest celebration, Thanksgiving took on national significance in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln, during the Civil War, formally established it as a national holiday. Since then, Thanksgiving Day has been a time when we join our families and friends to express gratitude and share in each other's company.
As dean of the University of Houston Law Center, I am thankful for the opportunity to lead an outstanding law school for almost 10 years along with a community of excellent and prolific scholars and teachers, dynamic students, dedicated professional staff, and accomplished alumni. I am also grateful that our decades-long dream became a reality as we commemorate the first anniversary of educating our students in the new John M. O’Quinn Law Building.
Amid our busy lives, it's all too easy to overlook the simple yet profound act of gratitude. But Thanksgiving Day serves as a powerful reminder that, no matter our circumstance, there is always something to be thankful for. Gratitude affords us the opportunity to appreciate what we have, instead of focusing on what we lack.
Research shows that those who expressed gratitude were more optimistic, exercised more, and had fewer visits to physicians. Expression of gratitude leads to stronger relationships, and in the work environment leads to better performance. Studies also show that gratitude can also decrease chronic pain and the risk of disease.
In acknowledging our gratitude, it's important to appreciate the trailblazers and pioneers of those who came before us, the opportunities we've been given, and the strength that comes from standing together.
Over the past few years, it sometimes seems as though the world has spun out of control. In these times of challenge and uncertainty, the act of expressing gratitude becomes even more significant. It's a beacon of hope that guides us through the storm, reminding us of our resilience and ability to overcome obstacles. As we face our collective challenges, let us draw inspiration from the spirit of Thanksgiving Day.
On this Thanksgiving Day, let us focus on our unity, set aside our differences, and recognize our shared humanity. In a world that is often divided, Thanksgiving Day provides a precious opportunity to bridge the gaps that separate us and find common ground.
So, as we sit down this Thanksgiving Day, let us not only savor the delicious food but also the moments of connection with our loved ones. Let us take a moment to reflect on the values that unite us and the diversity that makes our communities strong. And in the true spirit of Thanksgiving, let us express our gratitude not just in words, but in actions that reflect the best of who we are.
The Law Center has much to be proud of, and I appreciate the strides we have made while acknowledging there are many more goals to achieve. I thank all faculty, students, staff, and alumni who work incredibly hard every day to advance us forward.
Happy Thanksgiving, and let us carry the spirit of gratitude throughout the entire year.
Leonard M. Baynes
Dean, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Chair, and Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center
The University of Houston Law Center
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