Living in gratitude and thankfulness isn’t just something reserved for the Thanksgiving…but an every day habit worth creating…
Thankfulness is a difficult thing. It’s just part of our nature that we grow accustomed to things being a certain way. We live so long in environments that we forget how our lives compare to others in that we are given certain things—opportunities, standard of living, and abilities—that others will never have or experience. So how do you show thanks and have gratitude for the great things in your life?
Here is one simple exercise that can have a really profound effect. It’s based on a quote that is not attributed to anyone, but whoever it was had a great deal of wisdom that was put into one simple idea: imagine if you lost everything that you have right now and then got it all back.
How would that feel? But really think about what it would mean to lose what you have today.
Many people in the last decade lost their homes. Do you know what it would be like to not have a home? How easy is it to have your car smashed or appliances broken down? Or, what if you were injured and couldn’t walk, or couldn’t see? What if your health declined and your body stopped functioning properly?
What if you were separated from your friends and family, lost on a desert island alone?
Now imagine the day you get it all back—nothing new, just getting everything back the exact same way that you left it. How would that feel? Would you appreciate that beige stove that you used to hate because it’s ugly, or would you be happy to have hot food? Would you complain about wanting a newer car still, or would you be grateful to have safe transportation?
When you’re going through a period where you feel stressed and annoyed with what’s going on in your life, this exercise can be helpful. Of course, you can do it on a singular basis, too. Just when you feel yourself about to complain because you have stretch marks or your children are misbehaving or your job is frustrating you, think about what you’ve already got. Think about your wonderful body and your loving family and your many blessings. It’s okay to be dissatisfied with something or to be driven to work for advancement or improvement, but you always want to be grateful for what you have.
So, once you feel that you understand what you have and how you’re blessed, how do you actually give thanks for those things? Here are a few of my favorites.
Write someone a thank-you card. Real, hand-written thank you’s are such a wonderful thing! It’s a great idea to keep stationery on hand with some good old-fashioned stamps so that you can occasionally send a card to someone who has helped you out. If you aren’t sure what to say, just do a quick Google search for inspiration. You can also send thank-you cards to people who give you gifts or invite you to events. It just shows that you are thankful for them in your life.
Give back to the community. This is especially helpful if you can give back to a community that has helped you. People find it just feels more satisfying sometimes to complete the circle of having been helped by an organization or group of people, and then being able to show them you’re thankful by helping them.
Pay it forward. Did someone do something nice for you? Do something totally random and nice for someone else. If you fell into some money or unexpectedly get a bonus at work? Donate to a charity or provide a hot meal for a stranger.
Tell someone what they mean to you. People often feel awkward about sharing their feelings with others, but there’s really no need to feel embarrassed. Say it in the fewest words possible if that helps. Things like, “I’m really glad I met you,” “You’re always so helpful,” and simply, “I appreciate everything you do,” are all great.
Give someone a gift to show your gratitude. Send someone flowers or a fruit bouquet. Pick up a small gift for your mail carrier or favorite cashier. It’s not just about doing those things for the holidays, either!
There are a lot of reasons why you might want to thought of as thankful, but the biggest reason you should practice showing thanks and being grateful is that it does wonderful things for YOU! It will lower your stress level, develop closer relationships, and help you prioritize.
How do you show thanks? How does being thankful show you care?
P.S. I would like to get to know what’s on your mind. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, thoughts or ideas that you want to share with me! =)
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