It’s really easy as we get caught up in the stress of the holiday, sit down to eat delicious food, relax in front of the tube and enjoy good company to forget that the essence of Thanksgiving is simply about giving thanks.
If we take a look at the history of Thanksgiving, traditionally it celebrated the first close of a harvest season that produced enough food to support the colony through the winter. The Pilgrims were thankful to the Native Americans for teaching them the skills needed to achieve a successful harvest. Amazing how this event turned into a national holiday and this fact stresses the level of gratitude that must have been felt.
I have a little tradition I use each year to help me remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I reflect on my life over the past year and make a list of the people that have had the most impact on my life that I’m most grateful for. Then I make it a point to send a card, note or phone call to these people and express my feelings of gratitude to them and why I appreciate them.
For example here’s a few people on my list for this year:
- My son. He’s always the first person on my list and the person I’m always most grateful for. I am most appreciative his wonderful sense of humor and support throughout the year.
- A new friend that helped me through a really difficult time and has been a great source of encouragement.
- A new mentor that has broadened my knowledge base significantly.
- Our mechanic who has been exceptionally good to us through a series of problems.
These are the people who made the most difference in my life and they get extra special attention. However, there may be a handful of other people that get recognition as well such as subscribers to newsletters, neighbors, people or companies who provided a good service, acquaintances etc.
Then to take this process a little further, in addition to people I’m most grateful for, I also reflect on situations and events. I’m thankful to have a home to live in, money to buy food and pay the bills, food to eat, a job I love, the view from my office window, a car to drive and many things that seem quite trivial and basic and yet they are really things we take for granted that some people don’t have.
Now, although this is one of my Thanksgiving Traditions, I try to carry the spirit of Thanksgiving throughout the year and remember to express appreciation, give thanks and cultivate gratitude as often as possible all year round.
By taking time to focus a little bit on giving thanks for the good in my life, even when there may be a variety of situations I’m unhappy with or heavy burdens to carry, helps put things in perspective, makes life a little lighter, restores some balance and enriches my life and the relationships most important to me.
The most beautiful thing about giving thanks is that it not only enriches the recipients life, but the givers as well and can even extend to many other people, as feelings of good will have a ripple effect in both directions. The recipient of appreciation and gratitude often feels the desire to pass along thanks to others in their life and so on and so on.
Additionally, the act of giving thanks and gratitude triggers a reduction of stress, and that is something we can all benefit from. Not only that, it boosts your mood, lifts your spirit, puts life in perspective and reminds you of the important things. Both the giver and the receiver feel more grounded and harmonious physically, emotionally and spiritually.
It’s important to keep in mind not only on Thanksgiving, but all year round, not to take our loved ones, or anyone in our life, for granted. Although we often feel gratitude and appreciation, we frequently forget to say it out loud. Saying it out loud is vital to the quality of our relationships, and that applies to all relationships, such as business relationships, neighborhoods, communities, etc.
We all want to be appreciated and it really takes very little to achieve this goal. Just a few simple words like, “I appreciate you,” can make a world of difference. Everyone feels better about themselves, experiences more emotional closeness and becomes more productive and motivated. If we all practiced a little more expression of gratitude and giving thanks, the world would become a better place.
Wishing you and your family a beautiful Thanksgiving. Thank you for being a visitor to my blog. Your patronage is appreciated!