If your home is like most, your Thanksgiving Day will be very busy, with either traveling to where you want to go or preparing your home to have others over for the day. Either way, that can be very hectic and emotionally trying, which doesn’t lend itself to preparing your heart to be reflective and thankful. In fact, Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled weekend in America. Airports are full, and don’t always provide much room for contemplation of your good fortune.
This means all the more that if we want to be the kind of people who are characterized by thankfulness, then we must make sure that we focus on it, and not just on Thanksgiving Day, but at all times during the year.
Here are a few key words as well as some thoughts that are simple and practical to apply; something you can use right away in your quest to become more thankful:
Time. Set aside time regularly to be quiet, to reflect. We live in the fastest-paced time ever. From the moment we awake to the moment we collapse into bed, we have the opportunity to go at full speed and never slow down. If we schedule time every day in which we can be quiet and reflect, we will free our hearts and minds from the tyranny of the urgent and rushed.
Thought. Give thought to the many blessings that you have. Living in a consumer culture, most of us are fully aware of what we do not have and how we absolutely must have “it.” But how often do we reflect upon that which we already have? Take some time each day and think of one or two things you have that you may typically take for granted, and then take a moment and give thanks for those. In fact, I make it a part of my reflection time to review a list of things that I’m thankful for.
Generosity. Be generous toward those with less and not envious of those with more. We tend to look at others who may be wealthier than ourselves and think, “I sure wish I had what he does.” That kind of thinking breeds envy and jealousy rather than contentment. What can we do to break that cycle? I would suggest being generous to those who are less fortunate than yourself. Go to work at a food bank, and not just during the holidays—everybody works there then—but on a regular basis during the year. That will remind you of how good you really have it.
Ask. Ask a friend what they are thankful for. You will be amazed at the answers you receive and you will create a meaningful bond with your friends as you focus on this powerful question.
Acknowledge. Lastly, tell those you love how thankful you are for having them in your life. So many times we neglect to take the time to craft the words to express to those closest to us what their presence in our lives means to us. Take the opportunity of Thanksgiving Day to write them a note, or sometime during the day put your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eyes and tell them. Let them know what they mean to you, and in return you’ll begin to create the possibility of deeper, richer, more fulfilling relationships with those you love.
Of course, we should do what we can to make the most of the day we call Thanksgiving, but wouldn’t it be a shame if the only time we reflected on our blessings was that one Thursday in November? And the answer is, of course! So let’s do our best to be aware of the many great gifts that we have each and every day of the year. As we do so we will see our hearts soar and our minds more and more at peace as we regularly remember and remain aware of our good fortune.