Last week, I was having a coaching session with one of my clients located in South America. Just as we were getting off the Zoom call, she said to me, “I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.” I thanked her for her kind wishes. Then, almost as if she were muttering under her breath, she said, “You are very lucky, we don’t have any holiday like that here. I wish we did. It would be a nice thing to have a holiday where you give thanks and express gratitude.”
This got me thinking about two things right away. The first was, yes, I’m lucky to be a United States citizen and enjoy this special holiday. The second thought was the importance of having gratitude in my life and giving thanks for the abundance that I have.
Giving Thanks and Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the food, family, and shopping. However, after my mother passed away in 2016, Thanksgiving took on a whole different meaning, and I actually like it better now. That is something I have gratitude for.
After we lost my mom, we made a family decision to travel each Thanksgiving. We are a family of travelers, so it only seemed logical. Mom definitely would have approved. We gave up the turkey, we gave up the Black Friday shopping sales, and we stocked up on fun travel adventures and new experiences.
Thanksgiving was no longer how much could we eat, how much football could we watch, and how much money could we save by going shopping at the crack of dawn on Black Friday.
Instead, Thanksgiving became about laughter, new adventures, and enjoying quality family time in a new location. We always make sure to have a great meal on Thursday night no matter where we are, and at that meal we make sure to give thanks for what we have. I remember on Thanksgiving Day 2019, we were visiting Porto, Portugal and the hotel left us a Thanksgiving card after they did the housekeeping. I’m guessing they did this for all of their American guests.
Giving Thanks and Gratitude
You may ask what the difference is between “giving thanks” and “gratitude.” Giving thanks is an action that one takes to show appreciation. Gratitude is a positive emotion where we are thankful for what we have in our lives.
When we have gratitude in our lives we tend to focus on the positives. We are grateful for what we have even if we want more. We show appreciation for those in our lives who help us out and make our lives easier. Actually, we can show appreciation for anything. I have deep appreciation for my air conditioner especially in the Florida summer.
Actively giving thanks promotes the gratitude we feel in our lives. As we keep giving thanks and showing appreciation, our gratitude multiplies, and we create a positive life for ourselves. We realize how blessed we are. Stress is reduced and overall, we are happier.
I personally try every day to show as much appreciation as I can and give thanks whenever I can. I also have a gratitude practice that helps me focus on what I may otherwise take for granted.
A Gratitude Practice
I have a Gratitude Practice that I take part in every day, and I would like to share it with you. Every morning when I wake up, I thank God for waking me up to a fresh, new, and exciting day. I then set a daily intention and I proceed to write in my journal. Every afternoon before I finish for the day, I make a note in my “Daily Gift Spreadsheet” of a gift that I have given myself during the day. The gift could be treating myself to lunch that day, or for giving myself the time to do a workout. Every night before I go to bed, I say my evening prayers, and then I make a verbal list of five things that happened during the day for which I am grateful.
I have been doing this practice for about a year now and I can’t even begin to tell you how it has changed my life. While you don’t need to do what I do, I would highly recommend starting a Gratitude Practice.
Here are some ideas for how to have a Gratitude Practice:
- Do what I do, or some variation of it.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal.
- Practice Gratitude Meditations.
- Send Thank You Notes to people you appreciate. Perhaps one Thank You Note a week.
- Find a friend that you can practice gratitude with. Hold each other accountable and make it a point to connect each day and tell (text) each other why you are grateful.
In our fast-paced world it can be hard to remember to give thanks. Thanksgiving is a great reminder that we have a lot to be thankful for and have appreciation for. I’m glad that this holiday comes around once a year, however, giving thanks and having gratitude can be an everyday occurrence.
I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and give thanks to having you all in my community!!