Who knows what the Pilgrims and Native Americans really ate that first Thanksgiving. I once read that they probably ate fish and deer. I’m very thankful we’ve moved on to turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie! November always helps me find perspective. If there is any time that I pause and count my blessings it’s around Thanksgiving.
Gratitude has a strong effect on the brain and has been proven to increase energy, empathy, and optimism. Our pastor once said, “Wealth is defined by what you want, not what you have.” I think you have to be a grateful person to believe that. The happiness and contentment in your lot in life can help clarify decisions. Pursuing quality of life is pretty easy to understand because we all typically know what and who we love most. Pursing more (money, titles, recognition, etc.) can leave you perpetually searching and striving, all the while taking for granted the many blessings right in front of you. Once when I was in Haiti on a mission trip we hired a man who broke his back for our group all day and we paid him $7. I also passed along an old pair of tennis shoes that I would have thrown away back home. The man thanked me profusely for this “gift.” I honestly didn’t even know how to feel about that exchange. Rarely do I feel guilty when I do something nice for someone else, yet I couldn’t help to ask myself about the litany of daily luxuries that I take for granted.
I am not much for people who whine, complain, or play the victim all the time. Yet I do some of the same things. At my Grandma’s Thanksgiving table, somewhere between the sweet potatoes and rolls I straighten up and pledge to change my attitude – for good! This year I will maintain an attitude of gratitude. I will operate from a level of appreciation and thankfulness every single day! I will be grateful for everything I have and not covet anything I don’t have.
Like any good Coach I will need a game plan. Here are some things I intend to try and I hope they help you too! If not, come up with your own plan and share it with a friend for accountability.
- I will go out of my way to thank someone in a special way every week. 52 hand written notes, special gifts, or out of the blue signs of appreciation.
- Every weekday I will take time in my routine to list 10 things I’m grateful for, give thanks while meditating, or go on a gratitude walk.
- I will truly serve someone who has it worse than me once a month and ask for nothing in return.
- I will surround myself with positive, grateful people: at church, work, and with friends.
- I will bath myself in positive things that make me grateful for who I am and what I have in life. I will create a Gratitude Playlist of songs that make me thankful. I will watch an uplifting movie once every couple of months. I will read positive, encouraging articles and books.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy