#ThankfulLonghorns - A Bounty of Reasons to Give Thanks

ThankfulLonghorns

University rankings from around the world recognized UT Austin as a top-tier institution during the past year. 

Around dinner tables and on social media, families and friends are expressing gratitude as part of the Thanksgiving tradition.

But taking the time to reflect on the positive parts of our lives is more than just an engrained part of the holiday's celebration it also boosts our mental wellbeing, prompts us to give back to others and steers us on a healthy path.

"This ought not be something that happens only on Thanksgiving," says Robert Duke, a professor of music and human learning in the Butler School of Music. "If there's a resolution to be made at Thanksgiving, it's to be conscious of the positive things that happen in your life all the time and to not make this a momentary event that only happens because some holiday reminds you to be thankful."

Duke and psychology professor Art Markman star in the "Two Guys on Your Head" radio show on KUT News 90.5. Markman and Duke say memory and mood strongly affect one another, creating both "vicious and virtuous cycles."

"If you're in a bad mood, you tend to remember bad things from your life, which then makes you feel bad," Markman says. "If you want to break that cycle, one great way to do that is to think of the great things that have happened to you. Thinking of those things makes you feel better, which makes you notice more of the great things, and then you can create that virtuous cycle."

[Listen to Art Markman and Bob Duke explain why it's good to celebrate in this segment of "Two Guys on Your Head."]

Giving thanks is an actionable step we can all take to begin living happier lives, Duke and Markman say.

"I don't have to rely on the whims of my emotional self to decide how I'm going to feel at any given moment," Duke says. "I can choose to focus on these things that are positive and I know bring me pleasure, and that will change the way I feel in the moment."

Giving thanks is also a humbling experience, as we realize we didn't accomplish our successes alone, Markman says. Realizing others are willing to lend a hand makes us willing to help others in need.

"Making that list of the things you're grateful for reminds you of all the people in your corner who have helped you in the past," Markman says, "and whom you can rely on to achieve things in the future."

With that in mind, The University of Texas at Austin family has a lot for which to be thankful this year: From the arrival of head football coach Charlie Strong to the profound generosity of donors who contributed $862 million to the Campaign for Texas during its final year, helping the state's most ambitious nonprofit fundraising effort ever to top its $3 billion goal by $120 million.

[Tell us what you're thankful for this year on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #ThankfulLonghorns]

Following Duke and Markman's advice about showing gratitude, we made a list of accomplishments Longhorns can celebrate this Thanksgiving.

From the Top

UT

University rankings from around the world recognized UT Austin as a top-tier institution during the past year. 

This year brought The University of Texas at Austin more strong showings in collegiate rankings across the globe, giving Longhorns a great view from the top.

These five rankings highlight the university's academic prowess:

[Did you know UT Austin is also the ninth-happiest college, has one of 11 coolest college recreation centers and is the most influential university on Twitter? Check out "The Other Rankings" that paint of picture of student life on the Forty Acres.]

Bright Minds

Each year the Freshman Research Initiative gives 750 freshmen the chance to work alongside renowned faculty members in research labs. 

At UT Austin students learn from the best professors, and we're thankful for everything our faculty members and leaders have accomplished this year.

President Bill Powers delivered his final State of the University address in September, touting achievements as a model for higher education reform across the nation, citing improvements in the undergraduate curriculum, online teaching, student success and graduation rates, and creating of a new type of medical school.

These five honors show that some of the brightest minds around are right here in Austin:

Tomorrow's Leaders

With more than 450,000 alumni across the globe, UT Austin's graduates are today's tomorrow's leaders.and

Students have a great opportunity to help shape the world while also making memories that will last a lifetime just ask the Longhorn Band members who performed on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and played alongside Trombone Shorty at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

The accomplishments of these students during the year prove that UT Austin is preparing leaders:

Proud Graduates

Sharing 10 life lessons, Admiral William McRaven, B.J. '77, delivers the 2014 spring commencement address at UT Austin. 

Graduates of The University of Texas at Austin had big years, leaving marks in pro sports, gracing the silver screen and even exploring space.

Giving Back

A student poses for a selfie on UT Thanks Day to show appreciation for donors who help fund UT Austin's successes. 

If The University of Texas at Austin survived on tuition alone, it would be forced to shut its doors in November of each school year. Private donations not only help keep the university running but also preserve the university's mission for future generations.

To show appreciation for the donors who contributed with gifts of all sizes to the Campaign for Texas, students offered a "Texas-Sized Thank You" during the annual Thanks Day event on campus.

These five donations embody the generous spirits of alumni who help the university reach its potential:

What Starts Here...

Four of the five living U.S. presidents came to UT Austin's campus in April to celebrate the legacy of the Civil Rights Act. 

UT Austin celebrated its 131st birthday this year, and its leadership in higher education has never been more pronounced. These five things we're thankful for highlight the university's far-reaching influence:

On The Field

UT Austin rowing

Members of the UT Austin rowing team practice under the Austin skyline. Photo courtesy of Texas Longhorns Rowing on Facebook.

Longhorns asserted dominance on the field (and court) this year, giving fans a lot of reasons to be thankful.

From the entire University of Texas at Austin family, we'd like to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving!