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How to Be Grateful This Thanksgiving

Updated on November 16, 2015
Expressing gratitude for your blessings
Expressing gratitude for your blessings | Source

Along with getting us into a festive spirit, the holidays can put many of us into a reflective state of mind; thinking about all that we are grateful for during Thanksgiving, spending time with those we love most during the holidays, and setting goals for the new year. As we approach the Thanksgiving season, why not start today to begin reflecting upon all that we have to be grateful for?

As Joni Mitchell sang “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” So why is it that so many of us wait until we experience loss to be grateful for all the blessings in life? There is no time like the present! Check out some ideas below for how you can start to be grateful for all the blessings in your life and even tips on how to express your gratitude this Thanksgiving season.

Being Grateful

Stop and Smell the Roses

Girl smelling a rose
Girl smelling a rose | Source

Learning to live in the moment can be a real challenge for most of us. Living in a world where we are constantly connected to technology and looking for instant gratification via entertainment that’s within reach of our fingertips, stopping to smell the roses can be easier said than done, but more important than ever.

Remind yourself to live in the moment by:

  • Posting reminders on sticky notes around your house.

  • Set up a calendar reminder on your phone to remind you to take 5 minutes each day to stop and reflect on what you are grateful for.

  • Make it a family dinner routine for everyone to say their peak and pit of the day and reflect on the little things that you enjoyed most.

  • Hang a chalkboard or whiteboard in your kitchen or office with the question “What do I appreciate about today?” and write down a new answer each day.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Man sweating the small stuff
Man sweating the small stuff | Source

Now that you have reflected on the little things and slowed down to appreciate small moments, keep things in perspective. There is no better way to put a little more happiness into your life but keeping everything in balance as much as possible during our busy lives.

It can be easy to get caught up between balancing children, family, our jobs, running errands, managing a household, keeping a social calendar, and trying to find a few seconds for ourselves. Figure out what’s most important and what has most risk and reward. Focus on that and let the rest of the chips fall where they may.

In practice, not sweating the small stuff can be easier said than done. Below are some practical ways to keep perspective and stay grateful for the big things:

  • Make this your mantra: “everything works out in the end, and if it hasn’t’ worked out, it’s not the end yet.”

  • Break down big problems into small manageable parts. If you find yourself worrying about the same things over and over, break them down even further, find out what you can do to tackle them or turn them around. Every time you conquer them, you will not only worry a lot less, but you’ll invite more gratitude into your life because of your accomplishments.

What are you most grateful for today?

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Don’t Take Anything Personally

Much like not sweating the small stuff, increasing your gratitude can begin by not taking anything personally. When you realize that the actions, words, and behaviors of others are a result of what their experiences and decisions are and not yours, you can open yourself up to feeling thankful for the blessings in your life.

Expressing your Gratitude

After you have committed to being grateful, staying in the moment more frequently, stopped sweating the small stuff and taking things personally, expressing the gratefulness you have for your blessings can be a real joy! Check out these easy ways below to express your gratitude.

Create a Gratitude Jar

Writing notes for jar of thanks
Writing notes for jar of thanks | Source

The first step to expressing your gratitude is figuring out what you are truly grateful for in your life.

Step 1 - Find a beautiful vase, bowl, or even a mason jar from your cupboard.

Step 2 - Decorate it. Tie a pretty ribbon around it, glue some lace around the middle, or hot glue buttons or shells on it – whatever you want to give it a personal touch.

Step 3 – Find a prominent place for your gratitude jar in your home. Maybe it’s by your front door so you remember to use it before you head out for the day; maybe it’s at your dining room table so you can use your gratitude jar with your family; or maybe the best place for your gratitude jar is by your bedside table so you can express your gratitude every night before bed.

Step 4 – Place a pen and stack of note cards or post-it notes next to it.

Step 5 – Commit to using your jar. Make a deal with yourself to use it for a week or a month or use it long-term. Then, once a day, write down one thing you are grateful for that day on a note card, fold it up and place it into the jar. At the end of the week or month, empty your jar and soon you will find a whole pile of blessings in your life!

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Writing what you are thankful for
Writing what you are thankful for | Source

A more long term solution to the gratitude jar idea above, is to begin keeping a gratitude journal. Just like the jar, find a pretty notebook or one just lying around the house and give it a special, personal touch with your own decorations. Pair it with a nice pen and place it some place in your home where you will be reminded to use it on a daily or weekly basis.

Carve out time to write. It doesn’t have to take long. Even 5 minutes before bed or on the weekends to make a quick list or write a short couple of sentences about something great that happened during the day or the people and circumstances in your life that you appreciate.

Perform a Random Act of Kindness

By doing something that can inspire happiness in someone else, you can spur a whole chain of kindness and gratitude. When others are grateful for the happiness you helped them experience, positive energy can come your way and lead to improved happiness within yourself.

Random acts of kindness that are easy to perform any day:

  • Give someone a compliment.

  • Leave a nice note for your server at a restaurant about the great service they provided.

  • Write your friends or family a note to let them know what you appreciate about them.

  • Pay for someone’s drink or meal next time you’re at a drive through.

  • Rake your neighbor’s yard, mow their grass, or put their garbage can in while they’re away.

  • Send a bouquet of flowers.

  • Hold the door open for someone.

  • Buy an extra cup of coffee in the morning for a colleague at work.

Check out how one young woman spent her 20th birthday performing 20 random acts of kindness in the video, below.

Give Thanks for Every Day Moments you Take for Granted

Man reflecting upon his blessings
Man reflecting upon his blessings | Source

Whether it’s a small prayer at mealtime with your family for the food you are about to eat or a silent moment expressing thankfulness in your heart for the meal on your table, try taking a few moments each day to give thanks for something small you take for granted.

Some ideas for small things we typically take for granted that you could be grateful for today:

  • A warm cup of coffee or tea in the morning with breakfast.

  • The time you make to relax with a glass of wine in the evening after work.

  • The silly things your children say.

  • The smile your family puts on your face.

  • A favorite TV show that makes you laugh or helps you relax.

  • The time you have to give to others.

  • The people at your coffee shop or servers in the restaurant that prepared your meal.

  • Your coworkers for helping you on a project.

  • Your car that provides transportation.

  • Your ability to run, walk, jump, play.

  • Your body and your health.

  • Your cell phone, computer, and technology that allows you to stay in touch with loved ones and get work done as needed.

  • A warm shower at the end of the day or a soak in the tub.

  • A delicious meal or small treat during the day.

Share some of your own tips for being grateful and expressing gratefulness in the comments, below.

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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      It took me a long time to understand that other people's actions were not the result of what I did, but rather what was happening in their world. Once I realized that, I was able to be a lot kinder to myself. Gratitude has been a great way to change a negative situation to a positive one for me. It is like magic!

    • WheelerWife profile image
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      WheelerWife 2 years ago from Minnesota

      denise.w.anderson that's great advice!! The book "The Four Agreements" explains this concept so well. Thanks for stopping by my hub :)

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