The last Thursday in November is when Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. More travel home to share that meal of giving thanks with loved ones than on any other day of the year. And yet Thanksgiving is not about exchanging gifts, it’s about eating together and valuing the most important people in our lives.
Let’s remind ourselves of why it means so much to give thanks;
- Anticipation. It can be hard to find all areas of our lives constantly fulfilling. A new job, relationship, home situation will usually start out as exciting but over time certain aspects may become mundane, wearisome and even frustrating. Changing our focus to anticipate moments of joy and fulfillment can make a real difference. Being reminded that we’re loved, valued and important can make life much easier. With this in mind, try to schedule a regular family or date night to reconnect or allocate some money from your wages to spend on a treat or reward.
- Being acknowledged is an important part of being grateful and giving thanks. When someone notices our efforts it can make such a difference to how invested we become. When we’re recognised it means we’re not invisible. And even when we have something small or insignificant acknowledged it can feel really special, knowing that even a little effort has been appreciated.
- Receiving positive attention encourages us to thrive. Genuine interest often motivates us to even greater efforts, to committing more and trying harder. A recent survey revealed that employees are often willing to take a significant pay cut in order to move to another employer when they anticipated being valued and treated better. Positive attention and feeling appreciated matters, particularly when we are required to be constantly motivated, hard-working and enthusiastic.
-Accept compliments and kindnesses with grace and good manners. It’s far more attractive to smile and appreciate the gesture rather than brush it away brusquely. Be thankful for the thoughtfulness and let all concerned feel good, not just yourself.
- Appreciation can be as simple as a ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’. When it’s given freely and unprompted it can have huge impact on our attitude and self-esteem. Unconditional praise and appreciation means there’s no, ‘I hope you will always be this good!’ added to the end of the sentence. But it’s also important not to become too invested in receiving praise, compliments or appreciation. Take a pride in your work and enjoy doing well for its own sake. However, feeling valued and appreciated certainly oils the wheels of our relationships.
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is another way of saying how we look at things is unique to us. Our perspective on other people, situations or choices can change and be influenced by a myriad of factors; how we’re feeling on the day, recent events and how much we’re hoping to achieve. They can all determine whether we regard something as good or bad, attractive or not. It can be relevant to pause and assess what our own underlying influences are when we’re reflecting on how we responded to something. Learn to be grateful for each opportunity and the lessons it brings.
- Benefits can come in many guises. Many of us know someone who, over time, came to be grateful for an experience that was initially viewed as devastating or a nightmare. Getting divorced, being made redundant, losing our health may turn out to be gifts that forced us to review and re-evaluate our lives and make choices that would never have happened but for that wake-up call. Learning from a setback or failure can include taking stock of ourselves and discovering unexpected inner resources and strengths.
Years later people often reflect and say that awful time was the best thing that happened to them, as it made them become more engaged in their lives. They learned to give thanks for what they had whilst making decisions and changes that would not otherwise have occurred.
- How often do we count our blessings? Every day take a moment to pause and really see the sky, the trees and the view. Get back to basics and give thanks for running water, electricity, the food in your cupboards. Try to regularly ground yourself and be thankful for the fact that you woke up today. Spend time in nature and revel in the good fortune that we have, the freedom, the blessings and choices that are open to us.
- Giving credit and recognition is the sincerest form of gratitude and appreciation. We often hear of people being plagiarized or having their ideas stolen and claimed by someone else. That’s why it’s so important to give credit where it’s due. Remember to be genuinely appreciative of others - their work, their contribution to your life.
- Compassion links with empathy and understanding. When we value the people in our lives we learn to be sensitive to their points of view. This can really enhance our interactions and bring better relationships into our lives - much to be thankful for.
These points can help your Thanksgiving to be a day of meaningful appreciation and mutual respect.