For some, this is the time of year we’re reminded to give thanks — for family, for cooked oversized birds, tryptophan (hence, naps), days off from work, and for an excuse to eat pie.
Take a look around: What are the people you know thankful for? Don’t ask them, just listen to what they have to say. I’ve heard lots of “I have to get to the F–CKING store!” and “[REDACTED]’s coming and I’m gonna lose it if she starts talking about [CENSORED]”. I heard declarations about drinking copious amounts of soul-numbing alcohol, and saw scrunched faces from those who have to return to work on Friday.
But not a lot of thanks, though.
But then again…what is thanks? We talk about giving thanks on THANKS-giving, but what does it mean?
Well, I have no idea.
What I do know, is that gratitude is a better word, though one that’s been, at best, misappropriated by social media phony-baloneys into making them appear more enlightened than you.
Because here’s the thing, once something gets degraded to a hashtag, it ceases to exist. Why? Because gratitude is a state of mind. You don’t hashtag it. You live it. You practice it. Every day.
It’s nice that people gather once a year to be thankful together, but gratitude is so much more than being psyched over Karen’s famous green bean casserole. Gratitude is about being thankful for what you already have. Now, I’m not dissing Karen’s casserole. It may be amazing. And yes, gratitude is for enjoying the pleasures in life too. Circumstances won’t determine how grateful you are. Neither will a specific day. You will be grateful every single day.
Because we’re human, life has sludge in it. I like to think of gratitude as a comfortable accessory. Something that looks and feels great, but with serious purpose. A secret weapon, if you will.
Practicing gratitude is a mindset — and it’s not always easy to achieve. Your house needs new plumbing, your car doesn’t start, your boss is a dragon—these things suck. Gratitude gives you a better springboard for re-calibrating. It provides a wider scope of view.
Several years ago, someone told me to start a gratitude journal. She’d promised me that if I wrote down five things I was grateful for every day, in six months my life would change for the better. She was right.
When I say journaling do you think “Eeek! More work!”? Well, it’s true, you have to make a little bit of time for it. But you could easily type an email to yourself or write something down in your phone’s notes if you want. The trick is, you have to actually do it. You can’t think it and pretend you’ve done it. You practice by doing.
Hermes Ulysse Neo notebook cover, small model
Smythoson Portobello Notebook
Louis Vuitton Gustav MM
I am a huge fan of the old-fashioned pen to paper method. It’s a tactile, sensory experience which, in these days of texting and laptops, is actually an essential.
I recommend choosing a notebook that you really love, one that makes you happy to leave it out on your bedside table — or delighted to unearth from a drawer when you’re ready. Every day, write down five things that you were grateful for that day. Even if it seemed like complete crap, there’s always something to be grateful for.
Sound corny? Well, there’s been plenty of research which concludes that people who practice gratitude have fewer health issues, and all the cool “positive attitude stuff” that goes along with it.
Most importantly, in this high-tech, fast-paced world, gratitude forces you to reexamine your experiences. You’re reminding yourself to acknowledge the good around you.
So, you can still enjoy that casserole, hate your brother’s girlfriend, acknowledge that marshmallows don’t belong on sweet potatoes — whatever. But maybe giving thanks will mean something more this year. Happy Thanksgiving!