“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.”
The table is set. There is a vast amount of food sitting on top of it. It smells wonderful in here. It is time to take your seat. Now look to your left, look to your right and look in front of you. The person you see most likely shares some of your DNA. If not that person is friends with someone who shares your DNA. The person hopefully is smiling and as happy as you are at this moment. You are with great people and it feels exceptionally well. You feel at home. You feel unbelievably comfortable. Being with family and friends has a way of bringing out the good in you and you love it. Today is a beautiful day and you are grateful for it. You are grateful for the opportunity to share Thanksgiving Day with family and friends you love.
Time to Give Thanks
It is well known that the purpose of the Thanksgiving Holiday is to give thanks. When it was first created it was a feast centered on the celebration of a good harvest. The celebration goes back to the 1600’s. Times are a lot different today but the foundation of the celebration is the same. It is a time to be thankful. The meal itself is a way to get everyone to gather together and share in that thankfulness. Sharing the meal with friends and family makes it much easier to align your feelings of thankfulness so you can truly share in the moment. This is why Thanksgiving is such a popular holiday. There is something unique about sharing a great meal while being in a state of thankfulness. It is something many of you look forward to every year.
Interesting how many of us decide to really enjoy ourselves at certain times of the year. Some make sure that their birthday (day or week) is always a great time. Others make sure that Christmas break is always a great time. Then there are summer vacations that you save and plan for months in order for it to be a great time. Layer in the annual girls’ trip or fellas’ college football game and you have even more opportunities to feel good throughout the year. When you look back at the prior year you have many memories that show you had a great year. Thanksgiving ends up being one of those many memories.
Life Isn’t Always Special
However, you don’t have to wait for a special event to get the feeling of Thanksgiving or anything else on the list. You can get that feeling every day if you just learn to practice gratitude. After all you need something to combat all the other things life is going to throw at you. In between the birthday, the girls trip, Thanksgiving and Christmas, life is going to hit you with things that don’t necessary make you feel good. You are going to get caught in 2 hours of traffic right before an important meeting at work. You are going to get hit with a bill for a repair that you hadn’t put in your budget. One of your children is going to do something that you didn’t raise them to do and have to pay the consequences for it. You may lose a job because the company needs to cut 20% of its employees to make a statement for Wall Street and its shareholders. Someone you love may hurt you intentionally or unintentionally. You may put on 20 extra pounds and your clothes no longer fit. Life is full of challenges and you need an antidote to combat the feeling that often accompanies those challenges.
As you know the opposite of not feeling good about something is to feel good about something. The truth about practicing gratitude is that when you take the time to think about something you are truly grateful for you can do nothing but feel good in that moment. This is an undisputed fact. However, to get that benefit you can’t just go through the motions. You have to really think about it. For example if you are blessed to have all 5 of your senses I’m sure you are grateful for that fact. There are two ways you could practice gratitude focusing on that fact. By going through the motions you could just say “I’m grateful I can see.” Not much power in that is there? Now the other way you could practice gratitude of that fact is to say “I am grateful for my sight. I love being able to see the beauty of the look on my mother’s face when she sees me for the first time in months.” Are you seeing that look right now? Can you see that beautiful smile? How does it feel? Feels good doesn’t it? If the thought of your mother’s smile doesn’t work for you replace her with your father, your friend, your spouse. There is someone’s beautiful smile that you love seeing.
Make it a Habit
In order to increase the opportunities for you to feel good you need to incorporate a gratitude practice in your life. You need to make that practice a habit. You need to make it a non-negotiable habit. You aren’t going to do it because you have to. You are going to do it because you get to. You actually are going to feel grateful that you can. To get the most out of the practice you are going to follow the second example above when thinking of something to be grateful for. Not only are you going to think of something you are grateful for, you are also going to think of why. To add even more fuel you will include an emotion in that why. In the example above it wasn’t just about the smile on your mother’s face. It was about the fact that you love that smile. Adding the emotion of love made the why even greater. As part of that habit you need to think of multiple things you are grateful for, anywhere from 3 to as much as 10. The higher you go the more difficult it may be to think of something different every day and that is ok.
As part of my daily practice I write 5 things I’m a grateful for and why inside my journal. There are others who think of 3 things they are grateful for while looking in the mirror while brushing their teeth every morning. Both examples help you start the day with a boost of goodness. Some people think of 3 things they are grateful for before going to sleep each night. This has been proven to help them sleep better and reduce stress. Each of us are different so find the way the works best for you. How you do it is not what needs to be prescribed. What needs to be prescribed is that you actually do it. You can experiment on what method actually works best for you. Yet no experiment is needed to prove to you that when you think of something you are truly grateful for and the reason why you will benefit. You will benefit because you will feel good in that moment. You won’t have to wait until your birthday, the annual fellas’ trip, or Thanksgiving. You can get a little piece of that good feeling today. The beauty of it all is that because of your new habit you will actually appreciate those special events even more. You will appreciate them more because you are now living a life filled with gratitude and there are many scientifically proven benefits of practicing gratitude. The ball is in your court now. What are you grateful for and why? As always I wish you the best and remind you to enjoy the journey.