As we approach our annual day of Thanksgiving here in the U.S. there can be no doubt that it is on everyone’s mind, the day that is. But how many of us actually intend to spend any of that time being thankful?
Gratitude is something that has been at the forefront of my mind of late. Especially with my upcoming book “What In The World Am I Thankful For?” In fact, it’s almost all I’ve been thinking about.
Although I could be stressed about meeting deadlines and such, I am not. Quite the opposite really. I’m simply thankful to have the opportunity to write about something that has impacted my life immensely.
The book is a journal. It discusses gratitude, provides a working definition, and talks about the potential impact gratitude can have on anyone’s life. However, it’s primary purpose is to help establish a regular gratitude practice.
As part of that, I ask a series of questions designed to help you see all the good in the world, your life, and yourself for which to express gratitude. I’ve decided that I would like to share those with you along with my reasons for asking each one.
I would encourage you to take some time thinking about each of these. Write a list of at least three things in response to each one. What the things are you are thankful for and why you are thankful for them. Spend some time thinking and writing about the good they bring to your life, how they bring it, and the healthy positive emotions they foster. Then put it somewhere safe so you can look back at it throughout the coming year.
The questions are as follows;
What in the world am I thankful for in nature?
We live in a society where most of our time is spent sitting and looking at a screen of one sort or another. Asking this question will help to reconnect us with the planet we inhabit. There is so much beauty that surrounds us every day each and every time we step outdoors, but we rarely notice it. Let alone express gratitude for it.
This question is a prompt to look up and look around you. To think about the lakes, rivers, trees, flowers, bees, etc, and all that they do to provide you with a place to live. Without them, this planet wouldn’t be possible. If this plant weren’t possible, you and I wouldn’t exist. Surely this is something to be thankful for.
What in the world am I thankful for that humankind has accomplished?
I chose this question in light of our current social and political situation in the U.S. There isn’t a moment that goes by where something isn’t being said or done that is offensive, hurtful, angering. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard good news reported. It is out there, but we have to look for it and that requires a conscious effort.
Despite all that is occurring all over the world, there is still good to be found. There are good people doing some amazing things. It’s important to look for that. Yet, social media and news outlets are not going to help. We must do it for ourselves and it can be a bit of a task at times. And this question is here to help with that.
What in the world am I thankful for at work and at home?
No matter how much you love what you do there will almost always be something or someone that will be a potential source of stress or negativity in the workplace. This is often amplified if you’re doing something out of a need to simply survive.
Focusing on the good in your workplace will help to alleviate some of the stress and frustration that naturally occur in such a setting. It brings about a shift in perspective and mental state that will allow you to go in with gratitude and leave feeling good about the day, regardless of who was there or what may have happened.
Home can be just as stressful as the workplace. The pressures of family commitments, preparing meals, paying bills, maintenance and repairs, are all potential sources of stress many of which we have little or no control over.
However, we can control our mindset and how we approach these things. Cultivating an awareness of the good at home will make coping with all the stresses of home life far less emotionally and even physically challenging.
What in the world am I thankful for about my friends and family?
Friends seem to always be there when we need them, but when was the last time you thanked them for that? When was the last time you thanked a friend for their understanding, compassion, sense of humor, or their ability to always see the positive in things?
So often we take our friends and friendships for granted. It’s easy to do. It’s important to be mindfully thankful for our friends and how they enrich our lives. But the things they provide us are things they need as well. One never knows how greatly impacted someone’s day, or life could be by simply being appreciated.
Family. These are the people we often take most for granted, even more so than our friends. They are the people who love us the most, and if we’re honest, they can also tend to annoy us the most.
Whether they be blood relatives or family we have chosen, we expect them to be there. We expect them to be supportive and present. Often forgetting that they each have their own stressors and things with which they must cope.
We rarely take notice of their many characteristics and aspects of our relationships with them that are so worthy of our gratitude. This question is an opportunity to give the mindful consideration and acknowledgment they deserve.
What in the world am I thankful for about myself?
Just a few moments on social media is enough to invoke feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and a diminished sense of self-worth. We see photos perfectly filtered of the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect job, the perfect vacation, and the perfect friends and family.
Before long unhappiness, anxiety, and a whole list of other possible mental health issues can surface. It’s easy to forget that virtual reality is just that, virtual, and there is little if anything real about it.
Yet, so much of our time is spent in this alternate reality that it is astonishingly impactful on our view of ourselves. Now, more than ever, it is extremely important to take time to think of those things about yourself that are good, the things that make you unique and be grateful for them.
Spending time in gratitude for the things that make you who you are is one of the most potentially life-changing aspects of gratitude. It will reshape your self-worth and increase your self-confidence. It will foster a sense of self healthy enough to deal with the daily bombardment of alternate unrealities (as I like to call them) you encounter. Especially the ones you encounter on social media. With this being so necessary for today’s society, I could not in good conscience have left this question out.
So, what in the world are you thankful for? Spend some time thinking about it. Write your thoughts down, and then consider some ways you can begin to more adequately express it in day to day life.
Remember that it does not matter where you have been, where you are at, or where you are going; you are worth the work it will take to change your life.
Go forth, be fabulous, and have a blessed Thanksgiving.