How To Be Thankful This Thanksgiving
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough”
We have all heard it, or maybe even said it. “What the hell do I have to be thankful for? This year has sucked!”
In May, I already heard grumbles (and maybe some by me) about how much people missed gatherings:
- Miss going to dinner with friends
- Miss concerts or other events
- Miss human connection
- Miss spin class at the gym
- Miss going to grandma’s for Sunday dinner
With the holidays upon us, most are feeling that disconnect and loneliness even more, everyone is getting a bit tired of the “virtual everything”. Now Virtual Thanksgiving, ugh…really? Thanksgiving 2020 will be very different for most who are used to celebrating with family and friends.
How to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is a question that weighs heavily in the midst of a pandemic that continues to take lives and livelihoods. 2020 has truly sucked for many:
- Lives lost to COVID-19
- Families not able to attend funerals
- Loved ones in the hospital not able to have visitors
- Lives lost to suicide as rates increased this year
- Jobs lost
- Businesses closed down
- Elderly in nursing homes not able to visit with their family
- Seniors not getting to go to prom or graduate with their friends
- Weddings rescheduled
- Lack of human interaction, which many people thrive on
- Loneliness, loneliness, loneliness
Perhaps you haven’t been affected by anything listed above, but most have been touched by this pandemic in more ways than one. Leaving a negative taste in many mouths for 2020, struggling to find things to be grateful for this year.
There is an amazing article I read by Elizabeth Heubeck. She talks about the fact that grateful people are all around happier people and questions what would happen if we extended the tradition of giving thanks from just one day a year, through the entire year.
She even touched on gratitude in the face of loss or tragedy. She cited a survey done by Christopher Peterson, PhD, a university of Michigan psychologist. He conducted a survey after September 11, 2001 and noted a surge in people feeling gratitude. But why?
He contributed this surge in gratitude among Americans post 9/11 to a sense of increased belonging.
But how do you do it? How do you step away from your sadness/frustration/stress/loneliness for two seconds when you are disappointed you aren’t going to be able to have the same traditions this year or celebrate with your family and friends?
How do you and take the time to say out loud what you are grateful for? Well, you just do it!
I posted a blog last November on 7 Tips that can assist you in finding gratitude in the thralls of sadness/frustration/stress/loneliness. I’m not guaranteeing they will work for you, but they could be worth a try…what do you have to lose?
- Make a list. Seems simple enough right? I’ve done this many different ways. I’ve sat at my desk with a journal and listed things like: My health, the roof over my head, my car, and pizza. Lists can help by letting you visually see what you truly are grateful for.
- Say something [actually say it out loud] that you are grateful for in that exact moment. If making a whole list is too daunting just say one thing in the moment when you feel stress or sadness creeping in. Today I said out loud, “I am so grateful for socks!” It is super cold outside as I’m typing this blog and my toesies are chilly, so I honestly am grateful I have clean socks to put on to keep me warm because not everyone has that.
- Gratitude Meditation: I can’t do this yet so I’m skipping the details…but hey, it works for some people and it might work for you. There are sooo many ways to meditate out there but I don’t have any tips yet so you’ll have to Google it! If you figure out how to successfully do it without having songs creep into your head every 15 seconds, please let me know!
- Surround yourself with positive people. OK—This was a tip last year, but let’s change this to virtually surround yourself with positive people! When you are trying to be positive and have more gratitude, there is nothing worse than Negative Nancy’s to pull you down with them. With the holidays this can be hard because they cause stress for a lot of people. If you are with your family this holiday but it’s getting too stressful (or the Zoom dinner gets heated) give yourself grace to step away and take some “you” time. In that quiet time you have given yourself, try #2 above.
- “Doing good to feel good”. Studies show that volunteering has so many positive benefits, one of those being gratitude. I used to manage 1400 volunteers and could never get over how amazing these people were who gave so much of their free time to help a cause they were passionate about. It certainly is beneficial for the organization, but there is a selfish component to it, a good selfish, it also makes them feel good. Again, harder to do this year, but even picking up trash on your walk after your Thanksgiving meal. Help our planet a little!
- I LOVE IT! I know it sounds a little strange, but hear me out. Kyle Cease give a presentation at a conference on falling in love with your fears. His book, “I Hope I Screw This Up: How Falling In Love with Your Fears Can Change the World”, he encourages you in life to say out loud “I LOVE IT”, even in those challenging moments.
- Turn a negative experience into a lesson. A blogger I follow online was writing about her move to Bali with her partner. Excited for their new life and then just a few weeks there, the cabin they were staying in was robbed. They lost $3000, a laptop and clothes. They felt violated, broke, and sad. She went on to say it was a learning experience for them and they asked themselves:
- What is the blessing in this?
- Do we choose to focus on this or what else positive is going on with our lives?
- What did we learn from this?
The cultivation of gratitude during this holiday season is not meant to ignore the pain that so many have endured this year due to COVID-19 (and everything else life is still throwing on top of it).
Grieving the losses, whatever they might be from this year (even if it’s just mourning those traditions you are missing this holiday season) is a necessary process in moving forward. But being grateful for what you do have, does not mean you are forgetting the hardships or trying to push them under the rug.
Being truly thankful is the ability to recognize what you do have, it’s not saying that being grateful means everything in the world is great. The idea is to open your eyes, your heart, and your mind to even those little things that make your heart smile.
Remember, You Got This!