It is easy on a National Holiday like Thanksgiving to stop and give pause for what we are thankful for. Inevitably sometime during the festivities, mom, dad or a grandparent will invite conversation about what they are thankful for and may inquire as to what you feel thankful for.
The reminder to pause to give thanks is sort of in our face and on our plate. But what happens when the last bit of gravy has been retired to the Tupperware and the mad dash to shop for holiday gifts is on? How easy is it to be thankful then? (Especially when you realize your dollar will not take you nearly as far this year as in years past )
How do we remain grateful people? How do we keep an attitude of gratitude all year long?
While many of us have good intentions to do so, often our good intentions fall to the wayside as other more pressing matters clamor for our attention. Here’s some ideas to keep gratitude front and center.
1. Start a morning routine around gratitude. When you wake up in the morning, consider three things you feel thankful for. Ideally, write them down in a gratitude journal. They can be the simplest of things. Which people are you happy to be sharing life with? Do you have a steady job or business you are thankful for? Do you have a roof over your head, food in the fridge, or a good friend you’ve reconnected with?
2. Keep it Simple. Think in terms of some of the things most of us take for granted… What are some things that you appreciate? What have you experienced lately that maybe stuck with you? Did you have an employee or a coworker who helped you out? Have you taken a walk in nature lately admiring the autumn leaves? Learn to slow down to pause and take in the little things in your environment.
3. Thank God ( or your higher power, the universe, etc.) for your provisions. Stop to pause daily- every morning and /or every night and consider how fortunate you are. Did you have access to the food you needed and wanted all day? Many people don’t. Do you have money in the bank? There are so many living paycheck to paycheck. Consider where all these blessings come from. Pause and give thanks in whatever way is meaningful to you.
4. Start a Journal. Write down the things or people you have been taking for granted- maybe it’s your spouse or partner you have not been appreciating, perhaps you’ve had unrealistic expectations of your children… now is the time to consider what and who you take for granted so that you can start to imagine what life would be like without ____? Then write down 3 things you can do to start appreciating the people and things you DO have.
5. Give Thanks for your Trials and Challenges. That may sound counter- intuitive, but think about it. When everything in our lives is humming along, do we tend to really pause and be thankful? When we are at the peak it is easy to take things for granted. It is when we are often challenged that refocusing on the good and positive things in our lives helps us to be more grateful for who and what we have and helps build resilience for what we are going through. It is through the trials that we have opportunity to stretch and grow.
It is all too easy in our busy, chaotic and distracted world to see the hand in front of our face most days. Many people are barely hanging in there relationally, financially, job or career wise or with their health.
Whatever your circumstances, you can choose your thoughts, attitude and how you respond to them. The more we take control of what is ours to take control over, and the more we let everything else go, the less stress we tend to experience and the more opportunity to hone in and focus on what we are grateful for.
This has tremendous power to change our thoughts, our minds, our hearts and therefore how we show up in the world.
Pause. Breathe. Be thankful. Express your gratitude and appreciation for the people around you. Act in a way that they will be grateful for you!