It’s that time of year again. It's the holidays! And my favorite one of all is coming up... Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is that time where you honor and celebrate everything you are really thankful for. A day for joy and family and chosen families and great food. What’s not to love??
Well, Thanksgiving is going to look a little different for me this year. I sadly, will not be able to make it home. It's my first Thanksgiving in 25 years that I haven’t spent with my family. And that is honestly a major bummer. I can’t deny that I’m going to miss my family like crazy this Thursday, but I’m also choosing to look on the brighter side of the situation. Thanks to technology, I’ll still be able to talk to them on the day, and I’m sure I’ll get the chance to make it home soon. Plus I have a “found family” here in Florida that have offered to take me in, so I won’t be alone. A day is just a date on the calendar, whereas the spirit of Thanksgiving is a lifelong practice to be celebrated any and every day.
For me, I absolutely love the idea of gratitude. Of taking a step back from simply enjoying all the wonderful blessings in our lives and actually showcasing our thankfulness. It's something I’m working to do more often than on the one assigned date every calendar year.
Gratitude has become a true practice for me. Life is hard sometimes. I’ve never been one to deny that. I’ve had my share of ups and downs. I’ve had moments of intense doubt and imposter syndrome but also moments of true joy and dreams coming true. And through every one of those moments, I try and find something to be grateful about.
I have a secret for you. Complaining is incredibly easy.
It is incredibly easy to complain about the way your life is going. It’s easy to complain that someone cut you off in traffic or that your boss absolutely sucks. It is so stinking easy to complain. Sadly, our world is full of negativity.
Complaining makes us sad and angry. It makes us cynical. It bums me out.
I remember coming to this realization several years ago. The realization that complaining constantly was actually really draining. So I challenged myself for a week. I decided to try and go a whole week without complaining. Was I 100% perfect? Oh, gosh no, I’m not superman. Did it feel good to recognize when I was about to complain and make a conscious effort to replace those moments with a moment of gratitude. It really did.
That’s the thing about gratitude. It’s not simply a state of being, it’s a state of mind, and one that takes a lot of perseverance.
The complaining part is easy, like I said. Positivity is hard.
It’s hard to be grateful when you didn’t get the job. It’s hard to be grateful when your relationship unexpectedly ends. It’s hard to be grateful when you lose a loved one in a freak accident.
Sometimes, it’s really damn hard to be grateful.
But that’s why I’m calling you a gratitude warrior.
This isn’t for the faint of heart. Choosing gratitude will sometimes be the hardest thing in your life. There will be days when you want to curse the world and deny that there is anything beautiful in it. Those are the days when you have to try even harder.
Like I said, gratitude is a practice. Just like finding joy is a practice. Just like self care is a practice. If you’re going about your day waiting for joy and thankfulness to happen to you, you’ll be waiting for quite a while. You have to stay diligent in reframing your perspective. Stay diligent in your search for joy rather than stumbling upon anger, fear, and doubt.
You can start small. Start with this Thanksgiving. You may have to sit across from a family member with completely different views from you at dinner. Can you choose to be grateful for the opportunity to try and educate them about a different way of thinking? Maybe you’re like me and you’re going to be gone from those you really love on Thanksgiving? Can you be thankful that you have special people to miss? Or even grateful that technology makes it easy to connect and you found people to take you in? Perhaps this holiday season is finding you in a place of grief. I’ll admit that’s a tough one. Can you find gratitude in how having the capacity for grief also means you have the beautiful capacity to love?
Can we all choose to add a little more light and gratitude into a world that is already full of enough darkness and cynicism? Will you fight the good fight with me and become a gratitude warrior?
Start with a week. One week of replacing your complaints with gratitude. Just give it a week, and see your world start to change. I know I’m going to rededicate myself to this goal this week.
Choosing gratitude opens the door for joy. I’m not kidding when I say it makes me feel lighter. Gratitude allows me to walk around with a constant smile on my face and take in the world in a positive way.
When I find my gratitude, I find my joy. Don’t wait another minute to find yours.
What are you grateful for this holiday season and beyond?