Thankfulness November is just beginning. Every year I do my best to ban busyness, slow down, practice appreciation, and savor the moment for the entire month of Thanksgiving. I truly believe that no matter where you are in your life, what is happening in your corner of the world, or how you are feeling, there is always something to be thankful for. If life is feeling heavy on your shoulders, practicing gratitude may be able to help. And if everything in your life is lovely, then you have all the more to be grateful for this year.
This time last year I started my first full month of thankfulness because I was feeling absolutely terrible. I was being harassed to the extremes by a co-worker at my old job. Every day felt like the worst day. I was exhausted and I felt like I would never be able to achieve my own dreams. I felt isolated form the people I loved. My future mother-in-law tragically passed away several months before and the grief of her loss was hurting my fiancé deeply. I didn’t know how to help him or if I ever could. Sitting beside her when she passed really shook me. I have said goodbye to so many people in the past. I knew that life is short and precious, but I felt like I was wasting mine. The stress was making me sick. I knew something had to change.
I started brainstorming ideas for how to improve my life and change the script. The amazing thing about being an adult is that life is full of choices and I knew I could make better ones. I made plans to get out from the bad work situation and the rest followed. But what helped the most was focusing on the here and now. Being thankful for all the good things in my life did not remove all the bad, but it did put my life into perspective. It started with seeing all the amazing things all around me that most people take for granted. I had a warm home with a comfortable bed. I had a job with income to pay for electricity and running water. The act of appreciating everything only made me appreciate it even more. I knew I was months away from being able to make a big change, but it gave me the strength to keep moving forward.
If you’re lost of how to begin, I am happy to share these ten tips on how to simplify and practice thankfulness this November.
- Start with the simple things all around you. What in your life do you have to be thankful for? It could be the roof over your head, having warm blankets, running water, a vehicle that runs, and a source of income. Start making a list. Did you eat breakfast this morning? That is something to be thankful for. Not everyone is so fortunate.
- Expand your thankfulness to what you have extras of. Many of us have way more than we actually need: a closet full of clothes, multiple pairs of shoes, extra winter coats, a book case full of books that have never been read, etc. Be thankful for the abundance in your life.
- Now, take inventory of all these extras. Do you have two blenders when you only need one? How many of your t-shirts have you worn in the past year? Do you have any extra books that you know you will never read? Extra mugs, dishes, or cookware? Pull together all unused and unwanted items that are in good condition and donate them to a local shelter or thrift shop.
- Appreciate your home, no matter where that home may be. Perhaps you share a flat with roommates, rent a bedroom, live with your parents, in a college dorm, in a tiny house, or you own your own home. Take the time to thoroughly clean it, unclutter, and spend time at home doing what you love to do. It might not be your forever home, but it is your home right now.
- Wake up early and make your morning count before you go to work, school, take the kids to school, or focus on other commitments. Make this your time. Brew a cup of tea or coffee and take in the moment. If you’re a chronic breakfast skipper, make yourself a light breakfast to start your day. Do something that you love to do.
- Go for a walk in nature. Find a way to get outside for at least fifteen minutes a day. A peaceful walk outdoors, especially in Autumn when the leaves are falling all around you, remind you of what is truly important. It helps you to calm stress and clears the mind.
- Take care of your body. Eat healthy, get rest, and exercise. Find time to exercise every day, even if you can only squeeze in ten minutes at first. Be thankful for having strong legs that can take you places, when some people are not as fortunate. Be thankful you can inhale deeply into your lungs and that your heart is beating strong. Not everyone is blessed with good health.
- Unplug. Disconnect from all the negative outside noise on your phone, tablet, television, and computer. Take a morning off, or perhaps an evening after work. Maybe even go for a full day or a week without. You will be amazed by how quickly your stress will fade and how you have so much extra time you didn’t know you even had.
- Write down (or talk about) three things that you are thankful for every day. This simple act of thankfulness will instantly make you feel better about yourself and over just a few short weeks, will change the chemistry of your brain to see more good in your life and increase your happiness.
- Be thankful for the people (and even the pets) in your life. It can be a significant other, a parent, family member, friend, co-worker, doctor, or perhaps an acquaintance you see occasionally at the post office or in town. The people you interact with the most have the largest impact on your life. Be grateful for the positive people, those that make you feel good to be around and who enrich your life. Limit time or even remove toxic relationships to make time for those that truly matter.
Of course, there are numerous other ways to practice thankfulness. Thankfulness for all we have eventually turns into action, such as giving back to your community or to a cause that is important to you. Thankfulness may inspire you to spend less money and less time on unnecessary things. It may even help you achieve a goal. There is no right or wrong way to start your Thankfulness November. In the comments, please share how you practice Thankfulness every Thanksgiving.
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