It’s the time of year when we are reminded to give thanks. This often means breaking bread with friends and family to express gratitude for the blessings in our lives.
Thanksgiving has become less about being grateful and more about watching football, planning a Black Friday shopping strategy, eating too much, and joining extended family and friends you may often dread due to heightened stress over divisive opinions shared all too freely.
It’s been said that when you are looking to grow, you should compare yourself with who you were yesterday rather than with someone else. Unfortunately, one of the bigger problems with social media is that users often post their most glamorous words and photos, and this can make others feel inferior because—consciously or unconsciously—we do compare ourselves with others.
Expressing gratitude can help refocus on what we have instead of what we lack. This simple act can build greater confidence and acceptance.
All too frequently we tend to focus on problem solving rather than appreciative inquiry. We look for what’s wrong rather than what’s right. We search for the flaws that somehow overpowers what is without flaw. We notice and are critical of the cracks in everything, but fail to appreciate as Leonard Cohen so artfully put it, that’s how the light gets in.
In psychology research, gratitude has been strongly associated with greater happiness because it helps people feel more positive emotions, improves their mental and physical health, enables them to deal with stress and build stronger relationships.
For me and my family, the past several months have been particularly challenging. After a lifetime of taking my physical health for granted, I came face to face with concerns that no longer allow for this. The loss of loved ones reminds me of my own mortality and that it’s important to make the most of the time I have left with the ones I love most.
It’s also a reminder to give thanks. By appreciating and showing gratitude for all that I have, I can shift from a focus of scarcity to one of abundance. I can express to myself and others what I value and what truly matters. Sharing gratitude means I can be fully present to what I have.
Here are some very simple ways to regularly express gratitude:
- Do it in person with the people who mean the most to you. By intentionally sharing your appreciation for each of them, this will bring you even closer together.
- Write a heartfelt letter or email to express your appreciation for people in the workplace or friends and family far away. Like an old fashioned thank you card, a personalized message is extremely beneficial and will be savored by those who receive it.
- Before falling asleep at the end of each day, make a mental note of five things you’re grateful for. This can be as simple as your partner, your health, your job, or whatever you appreciate today. You’ll end up sleeping deeper and rest more fully.
Thank you for reading this and thank you for your continued connection. I value you and appreciate your thoughts and impressions. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.