2020 has presented challenges for all of us, not the least of which is the fear that life will never return to normal.
It’s been tough sometimes to be grateful, considering what is happening all around us. But I have an idea that a friend shared with me when I heard grumbling about not being able to go to a ball game, or gathering with friends, or having to cancel a long-awaited trip.
“Yes, I know it feels like so much has been taken from us. But there’s still plenty of material to mine,” she suggested. “Start by finding joy in small things. Think of all that you have instead of wishing for what you don’t have.”
Her point was simple: If you are not grateful for what you have, it is doubtful you will be grateful for what you will get.
I’ll admit, at first it took some time and thought to adjust my attitude. But once I started listing what I was grateful for, I just kept going. My list was pretty long. And most of the items were not “things” at all. They were the people and experiences in my life.
I’m betting that all of you can make a similar list if you try. Start looking for little things that you can appreciate.
November is National Gratitude Month. That seems logical, with Thanksgiving always falling on the fourth Thursday of November. But you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to show your gratitude and appreciation. There’s something to be grateful for every morning you wake up. Challenge yourself to greet each day with an attitude of gratitude.
In fact, there are some pretty significant physical and mental benefits to gratitude, which include:
-- Improved physical, emotional and social well-being.
-- Greater optimism and happiness.
-- Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crises.crisis?
-- Increased self-esteem.
-- Heightened energy levels.
-- Strengthened heart, immune system and decreased blood pressure.
-- Expanded capacity for forgiveness.
-- Decreased stress, anxiety, depression and headaches.
-- Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise.
-- Heightened spirituality, i.e. the ability to see something bigger than ourselves.
That list alone should provide you impetus to look for reasons to be grateful for what you have. And remember, where you are isn’t where you have to stay. As you ponder the things that you are thankful for, you can also look forward to how you can use those gifts to move to the level where you want to be.
Maybe your job isn’t as challenging or fulfilling as you’d like it to be. But you have gained professional experience, developed people skills that could lead you to take on more responsibility, been provided opportunities to grow your network or discovered that your real passion lies in doing something different -- all while being able to pay the bills with, hopefully, a little left over. That kind of education is a reason for gratitude, especially when you move on to your new and better job.
Have you told the people around you how grateful you are for their roles in your life? Your words don't need to be flowery or formal, just sincere. You might be surprised at how they respond -- perhaps because no one has ever told them they’ve made a difference.
If a face-to-face conversation is awkward, why not go back to the best kind of mail anyone can receive: the old-fashioned hand-written thank-you note. And I don’t say that just because I’m an envelope guy!
Start looking around for reasons to be grateful. It won’t take long, and it won’t cost you anything. You don’t have to be a psychologist to understand that you are responsible for your own happiness and attitude.
A 4-year-old actress was appearing in a movie with an aging, crotchety star. One day, the star came on the set all made up beautifully, and the little girl said to her, “Gee, you look so nice.”
The actress made a pouty face and replied, “What am I supposed to say to that?”
The little girl politely remarked, “You could say thank you.”
Mackay’s Moral: Thanksgiving is good, but “thanksliving” is better.