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3 ways to be thankful on Thanksgiving and every day

Updated: Sep 22, 2022

As a new month begins and we get settled into Fall, thoughts will inevitably turn to Thanksgiving. While conversations will be about what to eat and who to gather with, it is equally important to give thanks.

Gratitude can feel impossible when things are difficult, as they have been with a global pandemic. However, gratitude is not about overlooking the bad and focusing only on the good. Giving thanks is about acknowledging that even in the dark times, there can be good.

Research shows that thinking about what we are grateful for can do wonders for our mental health. Focusing on the gifts in our lives can create a positive outlook and give us something to look forward to.

When I think of what I am grateful for, I think about the things that make my day easier or more pleasant. This can include hearing my favorite song on the radio while I'm stuck in traffic, or better yet getting to my destination without encountering traffic. Sometimes I am grateful for a tasty meal or a lively conversation. Other times I'm grateful for an opportunity or the presence of a loved one. Each day varies, but at the end of the day, I try to reflect on what went right that day. Occasionally, on days when it feels like everything went wrong, I give thanks for the fact that the day has ended, and I have made it through.

So how do we give thanks on a regular basis?

1) Gratitude journal: make a habit of spending a few minutes each day reflecting on what you are grateful for that day. You can write this in a fancy journal or more simply in the notes app of your phone.

Bonus: on difficult days, looking back at the things that you have previously expressed gratitude for will help ground you and remind you that there is good in your life.

2) Thank you cards: if the source of your joy is the action of another person, or even simply their presence, take a few minutes to send them a note advising them of the positive impact they have had on your life. You can buy a fancy card and put it in the mail for an old-fashioned surprise. Or send them a text message. Taking the time to say thanks will boost your and their mood

Bonus: your note might be what the other person is grateful for that day.

3) Celebrate: the older we get, the more our celebrations tend to focus on large events like falling in love, having a baby, securing a job or financial success. But when was the last time you celebrated writing a great email, or sticking to a new workout routine or finding an item on sale? Has it been a month of you exercising regularly? Treat yourself to a massage. Did you complete a course while juggling multiple other responsibilities? This calls for a delicious meal. Did you give a presentation or speech despite disliking public speaking? Call a friend and share your pride.

Tuning into the little things, taking time to express thanks and celebrating the wins are great ways to keep us connected to what is good in our lives. When things are tough, as they have been for the last few years, it's especially important that we keep our eyes on what is good.

Happy Thanksgiving- today and every day!

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