Quote of the Week: “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” Marianne Williamson
Writing Exercise of the Week: Write about eight things that went really well for you this year.
Thanksgiving has become a holiday like many others—we get caught up in the symbolism, the food, the time off. We offer a few appropriate words, make a toast or two, then kick back and relax. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but the holidays are always an opportunity for more.
Thanksgiving gives us a chance to get our gratitude in gear. The terms “gratitude,” “being grateful,” and even “giving thanks,” have become so commonplace that we often go through the motions without really feeling what it means, not just for others, but for ourselves.
I’m not a fan of guilting yourself into gratitude. I don’t think people should feel bad for what they have because others have less. Feeling like you “should” do/say/give more is not in the spirit of true grace in which our lives are changed as much as those whom we choose to help. True grace is an inside-out job. True grace asks that we celebrate what we have, that we get happy about the things that have gone right for us, because happiness is a natural expression of thankfulness.
Here’s the other thing about getting grateful by being happy. Happy people make better decisions. They’re in a position to see opportunities, to consider creative alternatives, to feel expansive rather than careful or closed. Happy people are enthused, encouraged, and inspired. Happy people are in a better position to help others, and they’re not surprised when things work out—in fact, they kind of expect it. More importantly, happy people want other people to be happy, too. Generosity comes easily and naturally for people who are happy. They see life as abundant, not scarce.
So how do you get happy? By recognizing and acknowledging the things that have gone well for you. It’s that simple.
Sit down and write eight things that have gone well for you this year. Don’t just think about them—actually put them down on paper. Seeing them in black and white will really bring them home. Nobody has to see it other than you. It won’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes, but the feeling and clarity you’ll receive will last so much longer.
Remember moments that made you smile or, better yet, burst out in laughter. It can be something small. A better mortgage rate? An unexpected trip to the mainland? A heavenly mac nut pie? A great round of golf, those jeans that fit you perfectly, a job you really enjoy? Reconnecting with an old friend or relative? Your cat. Your grandkids. Your partner. Surfing. A small patch of garden you can finally call your own. There is nothing superficial about these things. Joy starts small and then has a way of taking over.
So get your gratitude on. Make this Thanksgiving different by remembering the awesome things that happened this year. Then give thanks.
Darien Gee is a national bestselling author based in Waimea. She also writes under the name Mia King. She teaches workshops on writing and publication and also offers private mentoring and consults. Learn more at dariengee.com and miaking.com.