On Thanksgiving, we’ll gather with family and friends to give thanks for our many blessings. After the pumpkin pie and football game, we’ll disperse and life will move on with Thanksgiving just a memory.
What if we could celebrate this spirit of thankfulness year-round? The truth is we can. We don’t require a national holiday to appreciate our blessings and express our thanks. We can do so every single day.
The Gratitude Journal
For the last four years, I’ve kept a gratitude journal. I began this practice after hearing Oprah Winfrey talk about how much her life had been enriched by listing several things every day she was thankful for.
It’s now part of my morning ritual. This five-minute exercise helps me start the day in the right frame of mind. I write at least one thing, but usually more, for which I’m grateful. Rarely do I struggle for anything to list. Throughout the day, it’s like my mind scans for things.
Recording Little Moments
We need not search for grand events to note. Our days are full of beautiful little moments. For instance, this morning I wrote how I was thankful to discover one of my favorite artists released a new song (that I can’t seem to stop singing). I’m thankful for a conversation with my son, an overnight rain, restful sleep, the pretty pink flowers still radiant despite the frost.
Awareness of Abundance
A great benefit of the gratitude journal is that it causes us focus on what we have and consequently, not on what we don’t. Oprah shared, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never, ever have enough.”
Starting our day with gratitude anchors us in a position of abundance rather than scarcity.
Outwardly Expressing Our Thanks
The gratitude journal helps us cultivate thankfulness within ourselves. Businessman and Philosopher W. Clement Stone said, “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” While there are many ways to do this, here are a few:
1. Send a Quick “Thank You” Text or E-mail
Small things make a big difference. A quick text lets someone know you noticed and appreciated their efforts.
2. Write an Old-Fashioned Thank You Note
Imagine the look of surprise and delight when your friend opens the mailbox to find your note. The fact that you took the time to handwrite a note of thanks will be meaningful to your recipient.
3. Make a Quick Phone Call To Express Your Appreciation
Reach out to someone who has been influential in your life. They may not realize the impact they’ve had on you. Your call can significantly brighten their day.
4. Compliment Your Server at a Restaurant
When you add a gratuity to the receipt, write a brief word of thanks as well. If something about their service stood out, compliment them. If you really want to express your appreciation, tell the manager before you leave. You better believe the server will hear about it and probably other employees too.
We need not wait until Thanksgiving to count our blessings when we can cultivate gratitude daily. I encourage you to consider keeping a gratitude journal. This activity is not just something to add to your to-do list. It’s a tool that can radically shift your awareness to see how rich life really is.
Thanksgiving is a great time to begin. If you commit to the process for a year, you might be surprised by the difference it makes in your life.
Some people prefer to do this exercise at the end of the day. You can even use an app if you prefer to go the electronic route. Choose the method that works best for you.
What are some other ways you can express your thankfulness?