It’s that time of year when our hearts turn to gratitude. What are you thankful for? For the month of November, or at least on Thanksgiving Day, we slow down long enough to be grateful for a minute.
In the early months of 2021, which were very dark days personally, a dear friend started texting me a gratitude list in the early mornings. Not every day, just now and then. For this non-morning person, waking up to a gratitude prompt had an unexpected effect: it made it difficult to start the day in grumpy mode. It’s hard to be grouchy, discouraged, critical, depressed, or fearful when you’re concentrating on what you’re grateful for today.
Granted, some days aren’t naturally conducive to fluffy pink clouds of thankfulness. Loss, grief, fear, frustration, stress, resentment, and those mornings when you forget to put coffee in the coffee pot and make a pot of hot water conspire to steal our gratitude. Holidays are no exception, and sometimes make it even harder to be thankful. Turkey troubles (not thawed, overcooked, etc.), uncle so-and-so is half-pickled and belligerent at 10 a.m., Grandma brought up her favorite conspiracy theory during dinner, or the empty chair at the family table reminding you someone important is missing will drain your gratitude tank in a hurry.
As with most things, slowing down long enough to take inventory is key. Give yourself five minutes and come up with a list. Aim for three to five things. You’ll have a “stock” list pretty quick: kids, grandkids, family, friends, etc. Get specific: what exactly about each of your family members are you thankful for? What characteristic in your friend inspires gratitude? Find odd things to be thankful for… breathing, running water, flush toilets, central heat. How about windshield wipers? Bug spray? Crayons? Frosting? Shoes?
Do it in the morning, maybe again at night. Try it for a few weeks and see what, if anything, changes for you. More joy? More peace? A sense of well-being? More energy? It certainly can’t hurt.
By NIKI TURNER – firstname.lastname@example.org