Thankful Week: An Attitude of Gratitude

Thankful Week: An Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Not necessarily because of the reason why we first started celebrating (the more you learn about it, the less magical the First Thanksgiving seems) but because of what it means in our culture today. It’s a holiday in America that isn’t designated to a specific religion. It’s about gathering with loves ones – whether given or chosen family. And it’s heavily focused on consuming carbs in their various delicious forms. 

Families and friends come together with signature dishes in tow. They sit elbow-to-elbow around a table, or if you’re like my multiplying family, multiple tables. They pass the gravy, attempting to dodge a myriad of dishes and uncomfortable topics of conversation. Phones stay away as TVs in the background stay on parades and football.

Thankful Week: An Attitude of GratitudeEvery holiday looks different for everyone. For some – it looks something like the scene above. For others – it could mean eating or serving at a local homeless shelter. For all – it is an encouraged pause in a busy world to be thankful. 

Every few years my birthday falls on Thanksgiving. Which is especially great because it means I get to celebrate with my whole family, put some candles in a pumpkin pie, AND unwrap gifts with a turkey-stuffed belly. It’s easy to feel thankful on a day like that and I often wished the feeling could last longer. 

About 5 years ago, I started secretly doing a “Thankful Week”. 

I’d spend the whole week of Thanksgiving being intentionally thankful, and acting on it.

Writing “Thank You” letters to random people in my life I hadn’t acknowledged in awhile. Sending thoughtful texts to random friends. Driving with the windows down and my favorite music on, breathing in deeply. Actively looking in their eyes as I wish a good day to the Publix cashier or the Starbucks barista. Being eager to give a smile to a stranger. Even tweeting daily obscure things I was thankful for such as: “I’m thankful for music that’s not country” (No offense), “I’m thankful for all of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Thanksgiving episodes” and “I’m thankful for air conditioning.”

And yes, actually re-watching all of the Thanksgiving episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

I’d spend Thankful Week not only feeling gratitude, but expressing it. Even on days when I didn’t want to or didn’t feel like it, for this one week I’d choose to put my mess aside and focus on the good. And you know what happened? It became so much easier to see the good.

It’s natural to be stressed during the Holidays. Our society basically defaults to a state of stress nowadays. There’s mounting expenses, endless cooking and cleaning to do, and the pressure to appear like you weren’t just scrambling to find your kid’s other shoe as you ran out of the house. Undoubtedly a recipe will go wrong and someone will bring up politics at the dinner table. 

If you can choose to give yourself a break to be mindful, even for a second, it will usually feel a bit lighter for even that second. Take 5 minutes before bed to jot down 5 things you were thankful for that day. It can even be as simple as “coffee” or “I didn’t yell at anyone today” (For me, those usually go hand-in-hand). Your circumstances may not change, but your coffee the next day will taste even better when you’re intentionally aware of its positive affect on you. 

Practicing gratitude and expressing thankfulness starts as a slightly unnatural action and results in something you long to continue. It shifts perspective and breeds intentionality. So this Thanksgiving, focus on the thankfulness and show it to the people around you. Imagine if we all participated in our own Thankful Week, then Thankful Month, then Thankful Year. Now that’s something to eat pie for.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay, Deposit Photos

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