Thanksgiving in the United States provides a forum to show gratitude for people and things in our lives. It’s a time for family and friends to spend time together, share a meal (the best meal), and make memories.
It’s our favorite holiday of the year for the reason that it makes us slow down and enjoy the company we hold. Often, we are running from one thing to the next, which has caused the years to fly by at an unprecedented rate. We rarely take the time to sit for a meal, put our phone down, and just enjoy where our feet are.
No, it shouldn’t take a national holiday for that to happen, but such is life when it isn’t a priority. Just like anything you do; what you give attention to will happen and what you don’t will silently slip by with the passage of time.
This Thanksgiving (and, holiday season), we’ve got some unconventional gratitude practices that might help you slow down (and help your thank you’s stand out).
1) Write Handwritten Gratitude Letter
A handwritten note is a lost art form. We are quick to send an email follow-up, text, or share a thanks in passing, but rarely do we write any thank you’s other than for a wedding or birthday card. Writing a thank you letter, that expresses why you are thankful for someone, shows that person you’ve spent time thinking about what they mean to you. You took time to reflect on your relationship and appreciate how that person fits into your life; it won’t go unnoticed. Nothing good comes in the form of hard mail (besides Amazon packages); pick a fun stamp and you’ll be the first envelope opened.
2) When in Doubt, Help Someone Else
Unfortunately, the holidays can sometimes be a reminder of loss or hardship. Family situations are not always ideal, and lots of people deal with immense personal loss. Suffering, for all of us, is inevitable. A great way to (selfishly) address your suffering is to help someone else with theirs.
How can we get out of our own head and help someone else deal with their hardship? In turn, this helps us deal with our own challenges. This Thanksgiving, I’m practicing thankfulness for things I get to do and people I get to spend time with, while fondly remembering the memories of people I don’t, instead of regretting the could-haves and should-haves.
Glass half full…and getting fuller.
3) Commit to Presence (Hint: Listen Better)
It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture of gratitude to say thank you. Sometimes, it’s just the gift of listening that means the most. We’re often quick to put in our two cents about how someone should live their life, or on the contrary default to being mesmerized by our cell phone. We’re not all there…just partly. The gift of paying attention to someone who needs it is all we can really do for people; simply be there when they need us.
Nothing says “I don’t care what you’re saying” like losing your train of thought mid-conversation because your email commanded your attention. Put the phone down during all family and friend activities, and commit your attention to the people that are choosing to spend time with you in the room.
Tomorrow, practice purposeful listening. When you feel the urge to respond, don’t. As the conversation continues, reflect on what those people mean to you. Reflect on the fact that you listening means that person understands they are heard, seen, and loved.
We want to say thank you, too. To the readers of this email, your messages, posts, and words of encouragement mean the absolute world to us. Hearing your stories, your journeys, your challenges, and your passions fuels our purpose to continue to write and push on, and for that we want to say thank you.
All the love in the world.
Have the best (Thanksgiving) day ever.