Thanksgiving is this week and of course this question got me thinking! Will I be full? Ummm. …heck yes, because I love food and my family loves to cook. Thankful? Absolutely and I love that this holiday makes us take a step back and show some gratitude. But what about the rest of the year?
We are always pushing for the next goal, the next raise, the new car, the bigger house and I think its really important to push pause and be thankful for what we have in the present. We should be practicing showing gratitude all year round with our attitude and our actions. Showing gratitude makes you feel good on the inside and in turn, makes others feel good. Studies show that people who regularly integrate gratitude into their lives exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic. How can you really have a terrible day when you’re busy focusing on the great things that happened? I’m going to start practicing more of this in my life and I challenge you all to as well! If you need some ideas of where to start, I’m listing some below:
- Start a gratitude journal. Each night write down one thing that happened that day that was pretty awesome or that you’re thankful for and try to be specific. My entry today is “Im thankful for that church and their witty sayings, sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they give me ideas for blog posts!”
- Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or other milestones! Each year write a letter or make a note card detailing the positive things that happened this past year. Seal it and read it a year from now when you’re celebrating the next birthday or anniversary. These are momentous occasions and worth celebrating. Its easy to get in a rut and focus on what our partner isn’t doing, or what our year lacked, this year, change your focus to the positives.
- Pass the gratitude around the table. This one my older sister started at her house and the last visit I was there, we went around the dinner table and everyone shared one thing they were grateful for that day or week. Its a positive practice for us and our kids, my niece and nephew were both excited to share something that was special to them.
- Be thankful for the people in the service industry! They have some of the toughest jobs out there and can take a lot of attitude from angry customers so make sure to tell your server or barista thanks for the great service.
- Don’t just be grateful for the good, recognize the positive things in the hard stuff too! Lessons learned or situations where you feel you’ve been wronged typically teach us something important, be grateful for those hard things and how they served you.
- Write a letter to someone thats touched you. This is such an easy thing we can all do yet we never take the time to actually fulfill it. An old school teacher, a helpful salesperson, an old friend or your grandparents, take 10 minutes out of your day to write them a letter telling them how you feel about them or thanking them for a nice gesture and then mail it. Getting mail these days is exciting for anyone and that little 10 minute letter could turn someones entire day around! My grandma used to send me little news clips or newsletters from rescue animal organizations and every time I got one it made my day. Not only because I love animals, but because I knew she was thinking of me when she clipped those out and mailed them.
- Last but certainly not least, appreciate the beauty all around you! We are rushing around from place to place trying to squeeze the most out of our days and we forget to appreciate the force that is bigger than ourselves. Next time you’re outside on a beautiful crisp fall day, or witnessing a pretty sunset, take the time to stop and appreciate it. We are lucky to get to witness such beauty, don’t take it for granted.
I hope that heading into this week you can stop and practice one of these ways to show gratitude. I know we are all working towards our goals and its easy to focus on what we don’t have yet but there are also so many things that need recognition right now. Thanksgiving is in a couple days and this time of year always reminds us to focus on being thankful but lets try to practice this each and every day. I read somewhere that if everyone threw their problems into a big pile, you would take yours back once you saw the other problems people tossed in. Our problems or trials can definitely feel like the worst thing EVER when we are going through them but there is someone out there fighting a much tougher battle. Be happy, be grateful. You never know where your life will take you or what could be taken away in the blink of an eye so we need to be grateful as heck for all the victories, wonder and grace in our lives that we have right now.