Johnathan Thomas, MBA, PhD, D.DIV
That time of the year is right around the corner, and it seems every year it just comes faster.
Between the constantly jam-packed stores, wait lines, and…the dreaded TRAFFIC. It’s never-ending and you know exactly what time of year I’m talking about.
We love them. We hate them. We love to hate them!
But what if that was the problem?
We love to hate them, meaning we love to acknowledge the worst parts about them. The holiday season can really bring a lot of darkness for such a, what’s supposed to be, joyful time of the year.
Between the COVID outbreak, everyday stressors, political tensions throughout our society, and now the holidays, we’ve truly been through it.
Fortunately, and unfortunately, it’s not over yet and who knows what may be thrown our way. But, why let that stop us from being the best person we can be for ourselves and everyone around us.
Sure, we can’t expect to be living the luxurious life that you find in the Hallmark movies. However, what we can do is block out the negativity that surrounds the season, and introduce gratitude to our holidays, and the following days to come.
Surely if COVID has taught us anything it’s that we truly do have so much more to be grateful for than we ever realized. It showed us the importance that everyone has on our world and our way of life!
Gratitude is such a forgotten trait in today’s world and is often greatly underappreciated.
Let’s unpack the true depth of showing gratitude and how it can improve our lives and those around us!
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude itself is just another form of being grateful. So, then the real question is “what is being grateful?”
One can look up the definition of grateful but, much like life itself, being grateful isn’t so black and white. It’s a multidimensional action that can be expressed in so many ways.
Some ways you can show gratitude are:
- Telling your spouse how much you value them in your life.
- Putting in an extra effort into growing your relationships with your family and friends.
- Or even easier, simple saying “thank you” when someone gives or does something for you, and truly meaning it.
There are so many ways to define what being grateful is, but the best place to start is by accepting gratitude into your own life.
Take A Look Around
Think of the person that you hold closest to your heart.
Think of what about them is the part you love the most.
Then tell them that!
Showing your gratitude to another person is as simple as that.
It will make that person feel good.
It will make you feel better.
Now here’s the real challenge, can you do this for everything and every person you interact with?
Can you express your gratitude to every person around you in some way?
Whether it’s thanking the mail carrier for delivering your mail every day or being a little bit more patient with your server?
Or even be happy about the trees around you providing our world with oxygen?
Though, we aren’t saying you need to hug every tree around you. However, understanding the value of what or who is around you and what it does to help you is the real starting point in accepting gratitude into your life.
Where Do We Go from Here?
All of these minuscule acts really don’t require much going out of your way at all, and they’re pretty effortless.
Unless you really do want to hug every tree around you, that might require some effort, but your efforts show your gratitude!
Once you take a moment to find the value in your environment, you then have to outwardly express that gratitude.
Give someone a compliment and watch them glow.
Pick up the trash that’s not yours because it shows your gratitude for the world around you.
The most important thing is that you are showing you see the value in something else.
Keep It Simple
This is a lot to take in and it can be almost overwhelming to a degree. So, let’s just clarify something!
You don’t have to seek out every single thing or person around you to express your gratitude towards. In fact, no one has the time for that because it’s not a realistic expectation.
But, instead, find something to be grateful for as you go about your days.
Like mentioned earlier, say “thank you” to someone and truly mean it. We all know when someone isn’t genuine, those words don’t mean anything when they don’t have true intentions behind them.
Truly give thanks to someone next time they do something for you and watch how impactful it is versus just running through the motions.
With the holidays approaching seasons like Thanksgiving can be the best time to practice giving thanks. When someone is preparing a full meal, it can be pretty stressful and it’s easy to make mistakes.
Maybe this year you can just give them a little bit more of your patience and reassurance that you’re grateful they’re even cooking anything for you.
Then don’t forget to send compliments to the chef!
So, this doesn’t need to be a task that induces any stress or obligation to you.
In fact, over time you will come to find that you are genuinely a happier person because your perspective of the world around you is a lot more positive. The people you share your life with will be happier to be around you.
Plus, it’ll encourage others to reciprocate the gratitude into their lives!
It’s Time to Start
Now more than ever we need more people to show their gratitude.
The world has experienced such stress and negativity arguably more than ever in a matter of just one year.
Though this large amount of stress has been a lot for us to take on, it also has shown us a lot of good.
Between learning to overcome life’s new challenges with COVID-19, seeing how essential our sense of community is in dire times, and many other hurdles to cross. This year has been the ultimate eye-opener on how great our society is and all we have to be grateful for.
Negativity will find its way into our lives, it is up to us, the individual, to decide if we are going to open or close the door to it!
Instead of letting the negativity into your life, focus on what’s around you, and search for the ways to extend your gratitude.
COVID-19 doesn’t have to be the reason your holiday spirit and daily life hold you into the dark. Let it also serve to remind us that we have so much to be grateful for, whether it’s for our first responders, healthcare workers, or even the grocery store clerk.
Let’s not end the year on a bad tone! How about instead let’s try actually enjoying the holidays. It isn’t meant to be the most stressful time of the year, so don’t let it be.
Take stock at the greatest parts of your life and then start practicing to show your gratitude. You really never know how amazing your life was before until you allow yourself to.
The world needs your gratitude!