So many people posting thanks today. So many things to be thankful for.
I’ve been thinking today why it is most people reserve giving thanks to this day, or season, and rarely offer thanks the other 364 days of the year. I get that Thanksgiving is an opportune time to press the pause button and reflect on all the things God has blessed me with, however, I am a firm believer that giving thanks should not be confined to the month of November. The conclusion I came to, after my first experiment with Developing an Attitude of Gratitude, is that spending time each day reflecting on the blessings of that day impacts your health and well-being in ways that I cannot truly describe.
Be thankful for being presented with today… like today for example.
Today I am reminded that I am thankful that the turkey I made came out perfect – moist and juicy. I am also thankful that I have been living a plant based diet and lifestyle for a few years and that a plant-based diet has helped me to feel so much better. Although my tongue enjoyed the turkey (and the other meats I consumed this week- just testing it out) my guts are telling me that a plant-based diet is more my style. I am also grateful that John handled the bird to put butter under the skin and to season it up (even if I paid attention to the cook time) and Lilli cooked the bacon for the green bean casserole since I can’t stand the sight of raw meat now.
Today I am thankful for the veggie dishes I created… yams and Brussel sprouts, salad, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes … all were very tasty!
Today I am thankful for the family, and the friends who are like family, to share a meal with. I am also grateful for the family I didn’t get to share a meal with. Two of my 5 kids were elsewhere and missed! I had also hoped to have Thanksgiving with my parents. It seems that every year I plan to go to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, something happens and keeps me from going. This year COVID limited the family celebrations to people who are regularly in my house (a number far bigger than the governor of my state mandated could be in one house). Still, even with a full house, those I couldn’t celebrate with are deeply missed.
Being grateful for significant or small things in life leads to better relationships, increases your person satisfaction with current circumstances, and gives you the ability to enjoy the little moments in life to the fullest. An attitude of gratitude leads to a positive outlook in life, helps to lower stress and even improves your overall health. We desperately need positive thinking to balance out the trials of life. We need gratitude to help keep those pesky stress hormones from accumulating and leading us down the path to all kinds of disorders in our autonomic nervous, hormonal, and immune systems.
2020 has been a year. There are so many instances where it would be easy to focus on surviving the difficult times and to forget about appreciating the small gifts this past year of uncertainty has brought. I have learned through this year the importance of gratitude. When life feels too small or too big to handle, too predictable or too uncertain, this is the time I need an attitude of gratitude the most. Throughout the crazy things that have happened in 2020 I have learned that gratitude helps to calm the heart, reduce fears and expectation, opens my mind to greater clarity and love, and fuels action that is truly grounded in my deepest intentions. An attitude of gratitude may not solve all my anxiety, be the answer to every problem, nor end world hunger, but it can assist in the development of ease, connection, kindness and well-being. If you ask me, this is the kind of “viral” the world could use more of. An attitude of gratitude may not spare me from sickness, the dreaded COVID, wild fires, earthquakes nor other natural disasters. It may not mend broken relationships with others. However, an attitude of gratitude has the potential to change my relationship with suffering… from slave master to master teacher.
Today I am grateful for the many health care and service workers who sacrifice their own safety for the safety and well-being of others. I am grateful for those who have worked over time to do the research and the testing to make a vaccine and treatment available to others. I am grateful for those who willingly do healthy habits from self-quarantine to washing of hands to wearing of masks, to help curve the spread of this illness that may eventually come upon many of us. I am grateful for fire and police people who sacrifice for the rest of us to be safe and peaceful in our homes and in our communities… and some are even sacrificing even as their own safety and job security are threatened. I am grateful for my teacher friends and others who work in education who are attempting the absolute impossible to continue to share knowledge with youth and to assist the future by learning new tools and working longer and harder than ever before.
Today I am grateful for running, clean water – as I washed my hands 8 million times. And soap! Soap is a miracle too! And warm water! That’s a blessing. I remember some pretty cold water as I was growing up. I remember when the water came in on a truck to my house. I remember when the water ran through a ditch to get to our cistern. I remember cleaning out that cistern. Today, as I washed my hands and sang “happy birthday” to myself I was reminded at what a blessing it is to have water that I don’t have to think about every time I go to use it.
Today I am thankful for ways to connect with others when we can’t share a meal together. Zoom is a miracle. Facetime is a miracle. email, text messaging and phone calls without 20 foot cords so you can hide in the bathroom are all miracles.
Today I am grateful for opportunities to share. I am grateful that I have the ability to help a former student have somewhere to live by letting her live at my house so she isn’t homeless. Yesterday I went to Salem and saw all the people sleeping on the sidewalks. I can’t house them all, but I am grateful I can help at least one. I am also grateful for my kids who have learned to be generous people. Both of my daughters dove into their wallets to find change for the man standing on the corner with a sign. I am also grateful for a church organization that promotes giving to others and lifting the burdens of others.
Today I am grateful for a comfy bed, for a beautiful yard, for the projects in my yard to make it an zen place, for traditions, reminders, and practices that remind of of what is the most important… like my scriptures. I am grateful I started my day with 45 minutes of studying the word of God.
Today I am am grateful that the icing I made for graham cracker gingerbread houses worked. First time for everything. Today I am grateful for grand children giggles and a husband who doesn’t mind doing the dishes. (Frankly, after cooking the whole day I’m a little tired of the kitchen). Today I am thankful that NBC and Macy’s figured out a way to air the Thanksgiving Parade. Watching the parade and the snippets of Broadway shows with Hannah is a highlight to a good Thanksgiving morning while you prepare food.
Today I am grateful that tomorrow I can start over with my goal to build health habits.
What are you grateful for today?