Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? Well, except Chandelier from Friends. But seriously, we gather together with our beloved family and friends to break bread and give thanks. I actually think it is one of the few Holidays that focuses on family without getting warped out of proportion. But we can still loose sight of the true meaning by the distraction of a pretty tablescape and dozens of dishes to cook. Especially if you are hosting, it can be overwhelming to think about having a clean house, perfectly cooked turkey, and even a pretty center piece. But we shouldn’t loose sight of the point. Gratitude.
“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.”
Many of us have the tradition of going around the table and listing some of the things that we are thankful for this year. But is gratitude simply listing a few blessings and then checking it off until next year? This attitude of thanks is something that we can and should be practicing on a daily basis. We often forget to appreciate life when it gets hard. But it is often in those difficult moments where we find truth and meaning. And that is something in which to be grateful.
Maybe you have read books or even listened to a podcast or two that discusses the importance of having a heart that is thankful. But does it actually impact the way we live? Most of us are well intended. But life gets busy and we forgot. Or perhaps we want to adapt this spirit but are unsure as to how to put it in practice. Well today, I wanted to share a few ideas on how we can embrace a lifestyle that focuses on the positive. Here are a few ways to incorporate gratitude in your everyday life.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F Kennedy
1. Journal Writing
The Five Minute Journal is a popular way of reflecting on the things you have in your life in both the morning and evening hours. There are also books such as 52 Lists for Happiness, Living Well One Line A Day, or even simple bullet writing that can help set you up for a daily practice of reflection.
Maybe writing isn’t your thing. Taking a moment to sit quietly and think of all of the aspects of your life that brings you joy is an excellent way of practicing thankfulness. Think of it as a movie you are creating in you mind of all things that are a blessing in your life. You can also look to guided meditation and prayer for this way of practicing as well.
3. Having a General Spirit of Joy
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” Karl Barth
It can be so easy to go about our day complaining. You know the usual ramblings like how tired we are, how hard we work, or even the way our latte was made. But if we turn all of those complaints into phrases like, “I am so thankful to have a job that allows me to provide for my family.” or ” This caffeine will give me the energy to make it through the work day.” Then we will start training our minds to think more joyfully.
4. Pay It Forward
The reality is we are given so much. And there are so many people that are not as fortunate as us. The Holidays provide us with so many opportunities to give others a reason to be thankful. Whether it is taking a gift tag off the giving tree at your local church, volunteering at a local soup kitchen, or writing cards to elderly folks in the nursing home, there are so many ways to pass that spirit of gratitude onto others. One idea that I got from my friend was to create a gratitude jar. On Thanksgiving day, have your guests write a few things that they are thankful for on scraps of paper and have them put it in the jar. After dinner, pass the jar around and have your guests take turns anonymously reading the different things people are grateful for.
This year I have so much to be thankful for. I am overwhelmed with the joy that motherhood has brought to my life. I am amazed by my hardworking and sacraficial husband who does so much for me and this blog. I am humbled by this community of readers that I am blessed to be connected with everyday. Not to mention my extended family, friends, coworkers, and so much more. What are you grateful for this year? I would love to read your thoughts in the comment section below!
Challenge: Write a letter to one person that you feel needs to be appreciated. Whether it is your spouse and their hard work, a coworkers and her dedication to a project she has been working on, or even a sibling you have lost touch with. Make someone’s day and tel them why you are thankful for them.