It’s Thursday, so I’m Crafting my Life! I invite you to join in the fun. If you would like to share a story from your own journey, please drop me a line. If you’d like to find out more about my online class on living with intention and my upcoming e-book, visit craftingmylife.com.
Today, my American friends are celebrating Thanksgiving. I am not – in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, which just happens to coincide with Columbus Day in the US. What this means is that I’ve been there, done that, and eaten the turkey almost six weeks ago, and today I have to work. But since so many of you are feasting and making merry, it seemed fitting to mention it.
It also seemed fitting to mention Thanksgiving, because I believe that practicing gratitude plays a very big role in living a life of intention and authenticity. Over on the Crafting my Life blog I explored some of the benefits of giving thanks on Canadian Thanksgiving. Apparently, research tells us that people who cultivate a spirit of thankfulness have better mental and physical health, improved inter-personal relationships and increased optimism. This leads to greater happiness – apparently people are 25% happier when they’re “in gratitude” than when they’re not.
Image credit: woodleywonderworks on Flickr
Being thankful doesn’t, in and of itself, bring your dreams to fruition. But when you’re happy and optimistic, it’s a lot easier to see the possibilities in your life. At least, I feel that way. When I’m discouraged and down, I find it much harder to motivate myself. When I’m in a good place and I feel upbeat and hopeful, I’m more productive. I’m also far more likely to make mental connections or come up with brilliant ideas when I’m in a positive space. I think most people find that.
Ironically, holidays like Thanksgiving are often the worst times to bring gratitude into our lives. We’re so often rushing around, attending to little details, that we don’t really have time to stop and think about what we’re thankful for. When you’re cooking a full turkey dinner for 13 and doing some frantic last-minute cleaning so that you can keep up appearances with your mother-in-law, you’re probably not “in gratitude”. At the same time, I think that the message of togetherness and thankfulness and celebration can be an excellent kicking-off point to gratitude. It just may have to wait until the next morning when the guests have cleared out and you have a moment to think.
From this point on, we’re going to be hurtling headlong through the holiday season. This means that we’re also rapidly approaching the end of the year, which is traditionally a time when we re-evaluate our lives and think about what we’d like to do in the year ahead. Last year I declared that I wanted to keep the holidays simple and special. I’ll be doing that again this year. In the process, I want to take full advantage of the spirit of goodwill and hope and gratitude that infuses the holiday season when I’m not stressed out and frantic. I want to take the time to enjoy what’s happening around me, think about what I’ve done in the past year, and dream about what I want to do in the year ahead.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving (or just work, like me) today, why not think about what you can do to bring a little bit of gratitude and joy into your holiday season? How can you make this season enjoyable, and optimistic, and satisfying? We all spend so much time making the holidays fun for our kids, and that’s great, but I think we deserve to have fun, too. In the process, we’ll make the season a little brighter for everyone, because we won’t be toxic and cranky. When you take the time to cultivate gratitude – and joy – you’re not just giving yourself a gift, you’re giving everyone a holiday gift. And this one will always be just the right size.
How will you cultivate a spirit of thankfulness, at Thanksgiving and beyond? And how will you make the holiday season manageable and even enjoyable for yourself? I’d love to hear!