The day to all count our blessings
…. is TODAY and then every day from now on.
Can you be envious in a good way? I find myself looking over the pond to our US friends and asking myself – how come we adopted Halloween but left Thanksgiving behind? I get the Turkey sides aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but those perfectly decorated pies are something to behold!
Anyhow for me, it is not about the food. It seems to represent a lovely tradition made all the more special because it is centred around family, celebrations, gatherings, friendships, food and good virtues including generosity, kindness, gratitude, thankfulness and sharing,
My Mum always used to say Mother’s Day should be every day not and not just one! And whilst today I do want to embrace all those wondrous thankful ingredients wrapped up in Thanksgiving – I believe I need to honour my Mum’s advice and look at how much joy you can bring into your life with gratitude as a regular practice. Being truly grateful means feeling and expressing appreciation and thanks for who we are and what we have in our lives. There are lots of opportunities to be thankful daily and as one-off magic moments – here are a few ideas for both:
1) FOR TRADITION – This seems the right place to start – those magic moments – not daily but so important to keep in the diary and protect them from being so diluted by commercialization. Thanksgiving should stay a traditional celebration not the day before Black Friday and its weeklong shopping bonanza – where you collect things rather than moments! It is so important to hold on to traditions like Thanksgiving , as well as all our faith based celebrations. They represent a more virtuous life, maintain family traditions, show you care and create lasting magical memories. See them as opportunities to reduce the overwhelm of life to give thanks, receive thanks and honour the values they represent. Also recognise many people do not get the chance to celebrate with a family in this way so be very grateful if you do. For more on the importance of Traditions take a look at Frank Sonnenberg’s post here.
2) FOR GOOD MANNERS I am a Brit, and much to the amusement of other nationalities – we are taught to always say ‘please and thank you’. Very British, very polite and seen by some as way too formal nowadays. Yet so worthwhile, as if heartfelt, the words embody gratitude and respect for others.
Overwhelm can blind us to some of life’s simple joys. Time is so precious, we may forget to follow up, a text is so easy, but the personal touch does count. We have so many opportunities to thank people:
Thanks for making the effort, taking the time, the ride, stepping in, the good intentions, offering to help, listening, being there, caring, the birthday gift, the invite, the delicious supper, their thoughtfulness, the opportunity of an interview and thinking of me …
So many chances to connect and make a difference. It is more than about manners, the human connection matters and it feels good. Relationships can bring you joy, meaning and love. So even if you don’t want to say ‘please’ just never forget that personal thank you as you go about your daily life.
3) FOR YOUR HEALTH A simple 5 minute daily ‘To Do’ – It has been scientifically proven that a daily gratitude habit where you list down in a journal the things, moments and people you are most grateful for that day will make you feel better. It will also keep you grounded and focused on what matters most. Do it consistently every day and it will improve your wellbeing significantly. I list out 5 to 7 each evening as I journal – it is a daily habit I value.
4) FOR YOUR MIND – building on the last one – a daily 10 minute gratitude meditation practice will also improve your wellbeing. Where you are moving from the daily hustle, overwhelm and expectation to full on appreciation and thanks for life. This could be by using a ‘Thank You’ mantra within your meditation or in prayer or just listening to a guided gratitude meditation on an app. You could also adopt the spiral practice suggested by Tony Robbins in ‘Get the Edge’. He suggests you start within yourself giving thanks for your life, your health, your spirit, your body, your talents and your happiness – moving out towards those close to you that you love and then on to your family and your friends and your pets – to your colleagues – to your work – onto your environment, your home and your belongings – to the things that matter to you – right out to the beautiful planet we inhabit and beyond . It is important to get into the detail – everything you want to be grateful for. Find somewhere quiet to sit, close your eyes, smile and give the spiral practice a go to feel more optimistic, inspired and healthier.
5) FOR A GRATEFUL FLOW – something introduced to me by the Optimize Team. Getting grateful for those things we take for granted because they are invisible. Taking time out to pause and reflect. Thinking beyond the obvious, looking around us and seeing just how amazing life is and how many people contribute to us living our daily lives. For example take that ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’ and think about how many people were involved in producing and getting that food on the table from farmers to distributors, to factory workers, to retailers, to delivery drivers right up to Mums, Grandmas and Dads, lovingly preparing the feast and everyone turning up to share in the occasion.
Progress and the pace of technological change hide so many things from us that it is easy to just take things for granted. Open your eyes and look around. Everything around you from the chair you are sitting on, the computer you are using, the pen you write with and the train you got to work have a long list of contributors to be grateful to. These are things and people invisible to the eye but that we can pause and show our gratitude for. Also, sometimes the people are not invisible, but we choose not to really see them. The shop assistant, the bus driver, the barista, the road sweeper, the doorman, a neighbour or a colleague. Who can you say thank you to today that hides in plain sight?
6) FOR BEING THERE AND BEING SEEN– this is about taking time out to say thank you and show that you appreciate those that love you and those that support you – for something they have done or just for being in your life. This could be taking the time to write a message of gratitude in a heartfelt card or letter that explains why you are grateful, how you appreciate them and celebrates the person for being in your life.
It can be a one off or regular ritual. I have also done this with personalised small gift boxes to create magic moments. When my Mum passed away lots of people had supported her and our family. I wanted to say thank you and show our gratitude. I handmade 12 boxes and filled them with chocolates, a beautiful ceramic quote, a Marks and Spencer’s ‘Dine in for Two Meal Gift Card’ and a personal note of thanks. Each one was hand delivered to those who had helped from medical personnel to friends and even to the local pharmacy manager. We were grateful – we saw them, and their contribution and we wanted to acknowledge it. It has become an annual ritual. Who is on your 2021 list for a personal ‘Thank you’?
It can be so easy to fall into the trap of looking at life and everything that is wrong with it – especially if you get a daily dose of the media’s newsfeed. It is so much more life enhancing to count our blessings and be grateful for just how amazing our lives are and can be going forward. Thanks USA, for Thanksgiving and the opportunity to pause and reflect on the importance of being grateful and appreciating what we have.
Be thankful for today, tomorrow and every day.