This is a month of thanksgiving. Despite the origins of the holiday. Presently, we pause, we feast, and give thanks.
There are no gifts to exchange. There is no music. Decorations are subtle earthy tones coupled with luscious reds, oranges, and yellows. The kitchen brings comforting aromas of family dishes brought out just this one time a year.
Social media suggests calendars and prompts of things to be grateful for each day. It is the quiet time before the bustle of the Christmas season. It is a reason to celebrate gratitude.
During Lent, I read, “A Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, learn more. A small group of women reflected on the transformation that could come from listing, actually writing down, daily things to be grateful for. Voskamp writes like a poet; her, sometimes flowery, chronicles of gratitude challenge us to see the world through a lens of awe and appreciation. Her words stay with me even though practicing gratitude preceded reading “A Thousand Gifts.”
My pastor preaches radical gratitude year round. About three years ago, I started gratitude journals. Each day, I list three things I am thankful for. This is not as holy as Voskamp’s but is effective in changing mindset.
From the good night’s sleep, to the sunshine, to the steady paycheck and health insurance from my day job. From the report cards highlighting my children’s achievements, to the YMCA where I get to work my body, to the meals I eat and do not have to make. For the opportunity to cook for my family. For the garage that keeps my car free from the icy snow. For the time in my office with its muted pink walls. To the mobility and freedom I have in a body that is healthy. To the cheesecake I bought from a fundraiser. For the likes on my posts.
The list goes on. And on. And this keeps me positive. It has trained my brain to see the gifts rather than the disappointments.
Imagine if I kept a list of all the things that go wrong: every red light on a tight schedule. Storms that shut down power. Furnaces that break. Kids that get fevers. I won’t go on, but I realize fixating on these things would bring me down. These things can be turned to gratitude.
Grateful to slow down on my way to work. Grateful for candles and flashlights in the dark. Grateful for repair men that work on call. Grateful for Tylenol, warm blankets and snuggles. The shift in thinking makes the difference in well being.
While it is great to have a season, a holiday, a gathering of thanksgiving. It is greater to have an attitude of gratitude as a way of constant thought. A steady diet of appreciation.
Gratitude, a noun, the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. Give thanks every place you go. This mindset is a gift you give yourself.