Life can be tough sometimes. We never know what may be around the bend. There may be an illness, an affair, a layoff, a death, and on and on. One day it can be smooth sailing, while the next it feels as if you’re in stormy high seas. Some of these happenings are in your control, while others remain outside your realm of influence. All of these situations are impactful.
Managing life’s many highs and lows requires some even-handed skills—a key skill being giving thanks. Thanksgiving Day is a great reminder for all of us to practice the art of giving thanks—regardless of whether our lives are in a bit of turmoil or on the upswing. Rather than giving thanks, though, many of us focus on the stress of shopping, cooking, being with extended family, missing work, etc. We forget to notice the gifts of belonging to a family and being with them, enjoying a nice warm meal and having a day off to sit back and enjoy life. We carry this lack of gratitude with us well past Thanksgiving Day—and, by doing so, we are missing out.
“People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems,” says Derrick Carpenter, MAPP
(http://www.happify.com/hd/the-science-behind-gratitude/). This Thanksgiving, begin the practice of giving thanks. Work to train your brain to focus on the gifts of life and, by doing so, enhance your life. Taking time to note those moments that touch us, bring a smile to our faces, give us a sense of internal peace and bring joy to us on any level trains our brain to notice the little things more readily. The more we notice the little things, the more positive our life becomes. It’s that easy.
Notice the little things:
• The warm sun on your face.
• Blue clear skies.
• A stranger’s smile and hello.
• A warm bath, uninterrupted,
• Your spouse’s loving hug, hand in yours or kind words.
• A child falling asleep on your chest.
• A beautiful tree.
• The ability to walk.
• Having enough food.
• Having a roof over your head.
• A family dinner filled with laughter, deep discussions, inside jokes and familiarity.
There are countless things to be thankful for in our world. The trick is to pay attention. Regardless of whether you keep a gratitude journal, teach yourself to note the subtle gifts or train yourself to give compliments to love ones and strangers alike, start an appreciation practice and notice it’s impact. Stick with it and give it a chance to build your gratitude muscles. When we change our lens, our world changes with it.
Challenge: Be thankful everyday for the little things. Tune in this Thanksgiving for the moments that bring a smile, provide comfort or add a spark to the moment. Gifts are everywhere—learn to take them in.