With Thanksgiving tomorrow, thankfulness is everywhere. People are doing the thankfulness thing on Facebook and greetings cards help us tell others that we are thankful for them. Thankfulness is great, but how can we carry this thankful attitude forward all year long?
Thankfulness is two part: taking the time to think about what we’re thankful for and having the awareness to recognize and acknowledge them.
What are you thankful for?
Most of us don’t take the time to think about what we’re thankful for. We live in a self-absorbed culture where we take so much for granted. If you stop to think about it, it’s possible to be thankful for a million things, not only tangible stuff, but the ability to think and speak and have relationships. Or the sunshine, the color of the winter sky, the way the leaves more in the breeze. Some things, like leaves, I’m not necessarily thankful for them, but I’m thankful that I get to experience them. Our lives and everything around us is really quite beautiful and extraordinary if you stop to think about it. There are so many things to be thankful for, if you can slow down and see them. Truly being thankful for something requires being fully aware of it, being in the experience of it and acknowledging that it’s an amazing thing. Perhaps living in awe of everything is like living with thankfulness.
Simple Ways to Bring Thankfulness into Your Life (All Year Long)
Thankfulness comes up at Thanksgiving for obvious reasons. It’s the season to give thanks. Really we should be giving thanks all the time, rather than appreciating things for a day and then going back to taking it for granted, ignoring it or being too busy to be bothered with it. Here are a couple ideas for ways to incorporate thankfulness into your daily life:
- Meditate every morning (or lunch or night) and with that meditation, think of one thing you are thankful for. See that person/place/thing/phenomena and contemplate on it, what does it look like, feel like, why are you thankful for it and how are you going to show it your thankfulness today?
- Before going to bed, take 5 minutes by yourself with no distractions. Perhaps write in a journal or just reflect. Think about your day, any special things that happened and anything you are especially thankful for. Reflect on how the thing made you feel and perhaps set an intention to carry that emotion forward. Say it’s something like a caring partner, how can you return that appreciation to them going forward. Could you be nicer, get them a little gift, help them with responsibilities if they are overwhelmed, etc.
- Speak up. If someone does something nice for you or prompts you to think about something you are thankful for, talk about it. Thank them for whatever it was, and don’t just speak of your thankfulness, live it. It’s easy to say thank you, but it’s different to show your thanks. This year I sent thank you cards to all my editors. I made the cards myself, taking the time to create a festive and beautiful picture and chose personalized messages. I wanted them to know, and see, that I appreciate the trust they put in me this year and show them how thankful I am for our working relationship. Most of us expect to be taken for granted, especially in work, so it’s nice to show your thankfulness to others.
Now it’s your turn.
How do you cultivate and show thankfulness throughout the year? Share your ideas in the comments.