So. It’s Turkey Day and everyone is reminded to take this one day of the year to express what they are thankful for. While I hope that this day truly does bring us into a spirit of genuine gratitude and thankfulness, I want to share the importance of regular gratitude practices in our everyday lives. What are you even talking about, Angela? I’m glad that you asked.
Life is tough. Period! There’s no way around that fact. But, in contrast to that truth, the reality is that life is also good. Sure, we will inevitably go through some really bad times and bad things. But, life also gives us some of the most joyous and happy times that we could hope for. Because of the joy that even the simplest moments bring us, it is so important to practice gratitude all year around. For that reason, I have made it my business to include gratitude practices in my daily routine.
You see, the practice of gratitude does not only mean the act of saying thank you to others when they do something nice for you. It is any act that helps you to fully appreciate the great things that life brings to the table for you. The act of practicing gratitude can help you to feel better emotionally, improve your mental wellbeing, and even help you to feel more connected to the world and the people around you. So, what are some things that you can do? Here are a few of my favorite practices.
I’m from the south, where we have good old southern values and traditions. One of those traditions that I hold true is the act of sending hand written thank you cards. The reason I do this is that it is easy to verbally say thank you for something that someone does for you. But, to sit down, fully reflect and acknowledge what that person did, write a message sharing how it impacted you or what it meant to you, and then take the time to send or deliver it….that takes a lot of active energy. I love the feeling that I get, when I take that few moments to just be in a state of gratitude, so I endeavor to do this for my personal and my professional encounters. And, on the backend of it, I usually get a message or call saying how much that simple sentiment meant to the person. So, I really get double for my trouble.
Another gratitude practice that I use is reflecting on my goals and appreciating the progress I've made. Each year, I set goals in two different ways. I create a list (because there’s nothing like a good old fashioned list) of the personal and professional goals that I hope to accomplish that year. I keep that list in my journal or in a space where I can revisit it regularly. I also create a vision board, so that I have a tangible depiction of the things I want to see come to fruition in my world in the next 365 days. I then hang that board somewhere that I will see it every single day, as a reminder that I have goals to work towards. At the end of each year, I take the time to fully reflect on how far I have gotten in the pursuit of those goals. It really does something for the spirit to be able to check things off or express gratitude to your higher power for giving you provision to do so much.
The most constant gratitude practice that I use is the simplest. It is the act of just being in the space that I am in and recognizing that whatever that moment looks like, it is what I had hoped for in a previous season in some way. Although it may not be perfect and I may still be growing, I am not where I was and where I am now is a part of what my former self envisioned for my current self. We tend to get so caught up in what we don’t have or where we aren’t or what’s next on the list, that we often forget to just sit in the now. We miss the moments because we don’t just take pause to be grateful. Don’t miss the moments, sis!
I do hope that on this Thanksgiving, with all of the turmoil that we have faced as a world in the past few years, that we use this moment to express thanks for all that we have. But, more so, I hope that you find the ongoing practice of gratitude that works for you all year around and do it often. I promise you, life is so much sweeter and there is so much more joy when you take the time to be aware of all the wonderful things that surround you each and every day. Happy Thanksgiving, Sunflowers!
As always, sending you light and love…..