It about more than giving thanks.
With the holiday season upon us, we take the time to acknowledge our blessings, spend time with family and friends and truly be grateful for what we may normally take for granted. Rather than just giving thanks one day of the year around a table topped with turkey and trimmings, it can be so much more fulfilling to be mindful of these blessings on a more regular basis. To be consciously present and to recognize the good in our lives can lead us to become more thankful in spirit and in life.
Be Present. You’re not too busy.
According to Indianapolis-based clinical psychologist Christine Ward, Ph.D., it is important to not allow the busyness of daily life to overtake our appreciation for the good things we have. “If we are constantly ‘busy,’ we are not taking the time to acknowledge our health, our family, our friends and our work—which provide us all with love, peace and comfort,” she said. “We should spend some dedicated time during the Thanksgiving season to identify all our reasons for thankfulness. Individuals can do this as a daily habit; couple and families could do this as a couple and family activity.”
Ward suggested taking a few moments on Thanksgiving Day to state a few things for which we are grateful, especially during a time where we spend quality moments with extended family and long-distance friends we don’t see frequently throughout the year. If we make these precious moments count and not let external negativity invade this time of Thanksgiving, there will be so many more happy memories to look back on. “Anxiety, worry, busyness and a host of other distractions rob us of our happiness, sense of peace and thankfulness,” Ward explained. “We should practice being in the moment often so that we allow ourselves to be open to the beauty, goodness and love around us … to look at all the many wonderful things about our lives and focus on them rather than focusing on the negative or what is wrong.”
Ward also advised against spending too much time in the material world and not enough time in prayer, quiet meditation and fellowship. Keeping a journal listing things to be grateful for is one way to be more present in our thankfulness. “This is a wonderful discipline,” she suggested. “I believe it will grow our sense of wonder and optimism.”
The Greatest Gift?
Love, Indeed. And during a season of gift giving and sharing, think beyond the “things” we want to give people— or the things we want from them. Extending our personal gifts to others is a selfless way to offer a better part of ourselves and to show our appreciation. “Our presence in our friends’ and family’s lives is far more important that any material gift,” Ward offered. “The gift of love, attention, understanding is the most we have to offer to others.”
So this Thanksgiving season, open your heart and spirit to be more thankful and appreciative of everything you have. Filter out the external noise and busyness that clouds our calm, and be more present in acknowledging what we are grateful for. “Life is tough at times,” Ward said. “We cannot control what happens to us; we can only, with great effort, control our reactions to what happens to us.”