With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I figured it would be appropriate to think about what it means to be grateful. Gratitude is such a powerful emotion, and it is often dismissed in the general realm of human thinking. We sometimes forget to count our daily blessings because our other denser feelings creep their way to the forefront of our thinking. Worry, anger, confidence, and joy are all emotions that show up to life’s party. Some of them are lovely guests (joy + confidence) who we’d happily invite to hang out on the couch after everyone leaves. Other guests (anger + sadness) show up empty-handed, late, and fail to flush after they use your guest bathroom. Nonetheless, we need all of those emotions to appreciate the moments that bring us happiness.
I started to think about all of this when I stumbled across some “happy graffiti” on a public bathroom wall. It read, “Worry is a terrible use of your imagination.”
There is no upside to worrying. Worrying means that you’re using your imagination to create something that you do not want. You invite whatever you are paying attention to “your party.” That means you are asking it to live in your life. When we appreciate things, we are planning. When we worry, we are also planning. What will you decide to plan for?
When I looked into making gratitude a natural part of my daily life, I found a few essential practices. One that I felt was simple and much less cheesy than others was the suggestion to keep a gratitude journal. Now for me, this means tiny green post-it notes that live in my nightstand. When I wake up on the salty side of the bed, I try and scribble a few things down with a pencil while sipping my morning (overly strong) coffee. Sometimes the notes will have silly and not-super-inspiring things written down, but I will stick them to my fridge regardless, so I will see them when I’m getting ready. I will not lie to you, though. Sometimes before guests come over, I will rip them down and hide them in a drawer because they can be slightly personal or embarrassing. But although small, they are mighty!
We can also tell the people in our lives how much we appreciate them. When you talk to your significant other on the phone, throw in a” Hey honey, I think you’re still hot to trot. Plus, I love hearing your voice” Even though they already know you love them, it could be their preferred love language and make them feel good about their role in your life. Who knows, they may even start doing spontaneous chores around the house! I like to squeeze my dog (against her will) and tell her how cute she is every single morning – and now, her head is enormous!
So as Thanksgiving rolls around, we can be excited to eat some Kings Hawaiian rolls dipped in mashed potatoes (drool) annnddd practice gratitude for our lives and the people in them. Be grateful for those mashed-taters, your co-workers who make the days a little easier, your fricken adorable pets of all shapes and sizes, and your life in general.