Look at the Little Things…and Be Grateful

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

—Robert Brault

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, there’s a lot of talk about thankfulness. It seems to me that most of us are in the habit of focusing our gratitude on grand statements made on this once-a-year holiday. You know what I mean: “I’m thankful for my family, my friends, the fact that I live in America, my health, etc.” And that’s great—we should be thankful for those things. But what about the days when there’s not a turkey in the oven and family gathered around the table? Do you take the time to be grateful in the everyday?

It’s easy to get caught up in the hectic pace of everyday life: bills to pay, deadlines to meet, carpools to drive, and homework to be done. It’s also easy to focus on the negative aspects of those everyday moments: The chores seem endless. The bills keep piling up. Your kids misbehave, the dog makes a mess, and you can never, ever seem to find time to do anything for yourself.

But believe it or not, there are actually plenty of things that we can (and should) be grateful for in these mundane moments. Think of it as thanks-living. After all, you have a house to clean, when others may have none. You have bills to pay for things that keep you comfortable, like your heat and electricity. You have children who are healthy and full of life and a fun-loving pet that puts a smile on everyone’s face. And so on.

When you begin to see and feel small doses of gratitude on a regular basis, you’ll notice that you’ll start to feel happier, and you’ll experience an amazing shift in perspective. You’ll notice the negatives less, and the positives more.

To make habitual gratitude a part of your everyday life, start by making a list each day. Carry a small notepad and pen with you and jot down the little things that you feel grateful for as they occur to you (or type them into a list on your smartphone!). The act of physically recording them will help you to stop and truly think about each moment of gratitude. (You might also share with others how thankful you are for the small things. It will not only remind you to stay on your toes, but it might also inspire them to start the same practice!)

As this becomes a habit, you’ll find that you no longer need an actual list to remind you to be grateful.

To get you started, I wanted to share a list of “little things” that I’ve been grateful for recently.

  • A hot cup of coffee
  • Clean sheets that just came out of the dryer on my bed
  • A phone call with an old friend
  • The smell of my favorite dinner cooking in the kitchen
  • A great talk with my son

Remember, your list doesn’t have to be profound. Sure, at times, it may be, depending on life and your circumstances. But that’s the beauty of this whole thing. Life isn’t always profound. It ebbs and flows. And when we can learn to be grateful for the things we have each day, no matter what circumstances life gives us at that particular moment, we will discover one of the keys to living a much happier life. This Thanksgiving I challenge you to make a promise to yourself and to your family for the year ahead: to be grateful on this day, certainly, and during all the ones that follow.

Lastly, remember that your kids develop their mindsets, attitudes, and habits based on yours. So realize that engaging in thanks-living isn’t just something that you’re doing for yourself—it’s a gift you’re giving to your children, and to their children after them.

I’d love for you to share your own “little things”—in other words, simple pleasures that bring you joy—in the comments section of this post!

 

 

This Thanksgiving, Remember to Really Give Thanks.

Unless you have been living under a rock (but not Plymouth Rock—I couldn’t pass it up!), you know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Take a moment and consider what you’re focused on. Maybe it’s a delicious turkey dinner, a football game, or a long-awaited Black Friday sale. Or perhaps you’re fixated on the number of relatives who will soon be descending on your house and all of the preparations you need to take care of. But have you also spent any time focusing on the real “point” of this holiday—the things in your life for which you’re grateful?

It seems to me that for most of us in America, the “thanks” in “Thanksgiving” has gotten lost in parades, food, and commercialism. On this holiday—and throughout the year, in fact—most of us are less focused on what we have to be thankful for and more focused on what we want and how we can get more. And guess what? This attitude is making us miserable. In fact, according to a 2007 Reuter’s.com article, a study done by Italian researchers found that Americans are less happy today than they were thirty years ago.  We’re so fixated on what we lack and on what’s going wrong that there’s no room left for us to enjoy all of the blessings that we have.

My friends, I’d like to challenge all of you to change your attitudes and really celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow…and then carry that attitude of gratitude with you throughout the year. Trust me, it’s for your own good. Grateful people are happy people, and they’re also healthier—25 percent healthier, in fact, according to studies—than their unappreciative peers.

Here’s a starting point: Tomorrow, as you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner with your loved ones, think about everyone and everything that have made this meal possible. Your ancestors, whose hard work laid the foundation for your own life. Our nation’s Founding Fathers, whose resolve and principles allowed us to live in the greatest democracy on earth. Past and present veterans and service members, who have put themselves in harm’s way—and even made the ultimate sacrifice—to protect us. And those are just a few starting points for a feeling of gratitude. I’m sure you’ll think of many, many more, like your health, your house, the fact that there’s food on the table, and of course the love of your family and friends, etc.

Once you begin to consciously notice all of the great things in your life, and once you realize that you can’t take full credit for the existence of any of them, you’ll consistently feel more grateful, privileged, and humble. You might even begin to notice that you feel silly for dwelling on the fact that your neighbor was able to buy a new car this year while you weren’t.

As gratitude becomes a more prominent part of your thought processes, verbalize as much of your thanks as you can. Tell the people in your life how much you appreciate them. Why not start tomorrow with the family members who are sharing Thanksgiving dinner with you? I can tell you from experience, when you begin to connect with others in this manner, your whole way of viewing the world will change. You will feel so much more fulfilled, blessed, privileged, and happy. And you’ll look back on this Thanksgiving as one of the best holidays/turning points of your life!