Giving Thanks

Devin LeavesIt’s not about turkey, or mashed potatoes, or cranberry sauce.  It’s about being grateful for what you have and what you have been through. Giving thanks, or having gratitude shows a deeper appreciation for your own life experiences and being profoundly impacted by the implications of subtle and not so subtle moments and events.

Several years ago, I made the commitment to document my gratitude each day of the month of November. Thirty days of giving thanks, not just that special Thursday. Stating out loud and documenting on social media made me accountable to keep it up and not miss a day. I no longer post this exercise on social media but simply journal my gratitude and keep it to myself.

The first few days of giving thanks were easy; my health, the health of my family, family love, safe home, etc. but then the easy things were out of the way and I had to think deeper and more creatively. I found myself grateful for the cheerful cashier at the store, grateful for the abundance of food at my market, and grateful for the technology that allows me to reach more people.

Then one morning, I was late taking the rubbish bins out to the curb. I could hear the truck a block or so away in the crisp fall air. Running outside in my bathrobe, I quickly raked as many leaves into our green recycling bin while muttering under my breath about having to rake these darned leaves. Then it dawned on me; I have leaves to rake.  Many of my neighbors had lost their homes due to the financial/real estate downturn, and subsequent foreclosure.  Who was I to complain about a few leaves?

Gratitude can be found in the most unlikely of places. Simply focus on your daily life and there should be an abundance to be thankful for. Not just on Thanksgiving Day, not just during the month of November, but all the days of our lives. Studies show that having an attitude of gratitude is healthy for the heart, mind, and soul.

So here is a simple exercise for you to try and see if it improves your life. Each day find two things to be grateful/thankful for and write them down in a journal. Writing things down is important as it holds you accountable. This next step is a bit tricky, try to be the thing that someone else is grateful/thankful for!

Give a smile to someone, hold the door open and wish them a pleasant day, offer to let someone into your lane of traffic when they signal, perform random acts of kindness.  It is a beautiful way to give and receive many blessings in our life. To recognize that the news is filled with trauma, angst, and fear. That each of us can look for and find the blessings in our lives and actually be the blessing in someone else’s life. That is a Thriving attitude of gratitude!