Whistler — bigger than any contest 

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As we see Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror for another year perhaps we should pause for longer than a day and think about all the many things we are grateful for.

Of course, there are family and friends, there is love to be thankful for, and even the consistent challenges we face end up, in some small way, leaving a lesson behind for later.

It does feel like the idea of gratitude has taken on a life of its own these days with constant challenges on social media to tell the world what you are thankful for — even what's for lunch!

These can be annoying to be sure, but the idea behind them is actually sound. Plenty of studies have shown that feeling and sharing gratitude leads to increased empathy, energy and optimism.

According to Harvard Health Publications two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have found that gratitude is a powerful feeling that can have measureable effects on one's life.

In one study, the researchers asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week, while a second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them. A third group wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).

After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. This group was also found to exercise more, and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on negatives events or influences in their lives.

Other studies have looked at how gratitude can improve relationships. For example, a study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person, but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

Managers who remember to say "thank you" to people who work for them may also find that those employees feel motivated to work harder.

In the last few days, Whistler has been busy with a social media campaign of it's own based on gratitude — #Ichoosewhistler.

This grew out of a meeting between many stakeholders in the resort to talk about Powder Magazine's Ski Town Throwdown III annual contest, which pits ski resorts/towns against each other in sort of an online stadium warfare with voters holding the key to success (Yes, Pique was at the table).

Last year Whistler didn't make it past Round 1, getting knocked out by Eagle Crest Ski Area near Juneau, Alaska. And the same thing happened this year — Red Mountain took the win on this round.

Now, I'm not taking anything away from the wins of these other ski resorts — these are areas loved by their locals.

What the win did do though was prompt a conversation about the apparent lack of gratitude Whistlerites have for their hometown and mountains — Whistler and Blackcomb.

Clearly tens of thousands of people think Whistler is great, after all they vacation here year after year, all year long. And thousands come here to work and play each year, and of those hundreds stay to make their forever home here in this paradise.

So where is our community pride? This is not just about Whistler Blackcomb, this is about the whole town.

Are we too modest to show it? Well, we shouldn't be.

You can lose track of the things that give the truth to the idea behind the #Ichoosewhistler campaign, from the Valley Trail system, to the amazing on-mountain skiing, near country and backcountry adventures, the breathtaking Nordic trails at the Callaghan, the pristine lakes, and the five-star restaurants we can chose any day of the week.

But it is more than that.

Whistler is a strong community that has grown out a great vision — it is more than just somewhere beautiful to live. It is our home.

We may have been eliminated from the Powder Magazine Ski Town Throwdown again, but the hope is that by making people think about why they chose Whistler to live, play and explore, the community has already won because we have ignited the fire behind the passion that brought us all here to live in the first place.

Let's keep showing the world why we choose Whistler — why we are grateful to call the resort our home — after all it is all our stories together than make Whistler the place it is today... that's why #Ichoosewhistler.

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