Yesterday I began gathering food and décor with my mom for Thanksgiving. We planned on two stores, but never made it to the second. It was mayhem at that first store- people bumping into one another with eyes glazed, fixed on shelves, and folks stalking parking places. There we were, trying to find the perfect color of tablecloth, rushing to grab it up before someone else did.
We are all familiar with the irony of the holidays. We celebrate Thanksgiving then become savage the following day (or that night), finding deals so we can lovingly gift our friends and family come Christmas.
This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, add a few practices of gratitude. See if your holidays become just as wonderful as the songs we hear over and over during the next month. Bring the magic back with gratitude.
1. Change your language.
Rather than saying, “I have to,” say “I get to.” Find this shift first by saying it, and secondly, put it in to perspective. The other day I stood before two loads of clean laundry waiting to be folded. I thought, “arrrggghhh. I have to fold this now.” I thought of my grandmother who would have shaken her head at me, because she had ten children, no dryer, and washed cloth diapers by hand. My job was easy. “I’m lucky! I get to fold my cloths that two easy-to-operate machines cleaned for me!” The shift in perspective brought some joy to folding laundry. This week I was also dreading the grocery store with all of the mayhem of frantic shoppers. A friend posted on Facebook that she began her morning thinking to herself that she had no food in her house. As she read a newsletter in her daughter’s bag, she learned of a food drive at the school. She then filled two bags from her pantry, and found new perspective. So did I. I am so lucky; I get to fill my cart up at the grocery store.
2. Gratitude Journal
I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my greatest tools in my personal happiness is keeping a gratitude journal. At the end of the day, I record three things I am grateful for that day. I sleep on those thoughts. If I feel a little down, I look through that journal, and I can’t help filling up again on the love I’ve received. Commit to it for a week. At the end of the week, recommit to another week. See for yourself what shifts.
3. Say Please and Thank You. Smile.
I am a waitress, and I observe the power of please and thank you on a regular basis. If a customer uses these sweet phrases, the energy around our interaction is elevated, and in their absence, energy is subtracted. Waitressing is not a glamorous job, but there is something awesome about being a catalyst to a memorable meal. Everyone needs to be acknowledged. Make eye contact and smile. Smiling is contagious. Allow yourself to become more vulnerable in the presence of others, rising above your ego.
Before you eat, take a moment. Acknowledge the clean water coming from your tap. Trace your food source, and send gratitude to the people, the sun, the land, and rain. Thank whoever or whatever you believe for blessing you so many times. How did you get so lucky?
5. Serve Others
Any wise person will tell you that it is absolutely necessary to one’s well being to serve others. You will find yourself more free from the thoughts that bog you down. You might adopt a fresh new perspective; one of gratitude. Someone can benefit from you. There are plenty of great places to start; Big Brother, Big Sister, a soup kitchen, throwing your change in the red Salvation Army bucket, and give what you don’t need to someone who could use it. Seek out opportunities to serve.
Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.
Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli via Flickr