How was your Thanksgiving this year?
Maybe your day was filled with hosting close family and friends, eating too much pumpkin pie, or watching football in a turkey-induced “food coma.”
However you celebrated, there’s
probably one thing you overlooked.
(and I’m not talking about all the dirty dishes that are still in your sink…)
Since the start of November, I’ve seen examples of gratitude and thankfulness pop up everywhere. It ranges from friends posting one thing a day they are grateful for on Facebook to others expressing their appreciation through cards, emails, and verbal acknowledgments.
But now that Thanksgiving is over, most of these remarks disappear. Overnight, our lives shift from counting our blessings to counting the hours until stores open for Black Friday bargains. Shopping lists, wrapping presents, and the mad rush to get things done before the end of the year suddenly replaces gratitude’s presence in our daily lives.
While we know that being thankful isn’t reserved only for the month of November, oftentimes this is all the mental and electronic airtime it gets. Before long, we move on to preparing for the next holiday or focusing on yet another task.
My challenge for you is to continue to cultivate gratitude daily for the rest of 2013 to make the act of giving Thanksgiving a personal tradition!
To help you embark on this Gratitude Quest, here are a few guideposts from some of my favorite authors, academic researchers, and inspiring thought-leaders:
Make gratitude a habit, not just an occasional action.
Transcendentalist leader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, advised to “cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.” Cultivating a grateful heart doesn’t require a special occasion or time of our life. It can happen every day at any time. If you recognize these moments and appreciate them enough, they will eventually form lifelong habits of thankfulness.
Keep track of your gifts.
In her best-selling book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp, shows the world how to find joy and exercise gratitude in life’s simplest moments. Challenging herself to write down 1,000 gifts, Ann shares her story of discovering blessings in the everyday miracles she experiences as a farmer’s wife and mother of six. Her truly compelling work of art will challenge you to record your own gifts…and you’re in luck because she made a free printable 100 days of gratitude calendar just for you! So start counting!
Survey says Gratitude!
The Emmons Lab at UC Davis studied the science behind gratitude and found it to be an indispensable manifestation of virtue. It’s an integral component of health, wholeness, and well-being. Researchers discovered that individuals who kept weekly gratitude journals (like Ann and her followers!) felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about their future compared to others who focused hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). Additionally, these grateful individuals were more likely to make progress on their goals. They feel more enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy when compared to their peers.
What are you grateful for?
Start now. Right here. In this moment.
Write down at least a dozen things. Reflect on your list and consider your life and its immense wealth and value.
Consider posting this image or another reminder to choose gratitude somewhere you will see it throughout the day. Try places like your computer desktop, tablet, or phone image or on a bathroom mirror.
Remind yourself how blessed you truly are as you continue to cultivate gratitude throughout the next month… and your entire life!