Once a year at Thanksgiving, Americans pause from their busy lives to give thanks and share their gratitude. As I partake in our national tradition this week, it occurs to me, just like I often say about eating roast Turkey, why do I only do this one day of the year?
I am grateful for what I am and have. My Thanksgiving is perpetual. Henry David Thoreau
There are many reasons to extend our thanksgivings throughout the year, like proven health and psychological benefits. So, during this special week, here are a handful of ways to create a daily practice of gratitude.
1. Giving Back
Giving back is a tried and true way to remember the blessings you have received and to share those blessings with others. There are endless options, so many worthy causes in this world that it may be hard to decide where to donate your time or money. Listen to your heart and spend some time thinking about the issues that resonate for you. The activity of mindful selection of the right cause can highlight those things in your life for which you are most grateful.
A suggestion? With all of the recent natural disasters, hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes, the American Red Cross is always in need of your dollars, blood and time.
2. Thank you notes
Email and text messaging are great for day-to-day communication; fast, easy and mindless. However, there is something to be said for the lost tradition of handwritten notes. Why not bring it back by writing a thank you note to someone you appreciate once a week? Find some beautiful cards and fall in love again with the sound of a pen scratching on paper.
3. Start each day with a ritual of Gratitude
Today our lives are so hectic, it can often feel difficult to incorporate the time for gratitude and appreciation into our daily activities. However, a gratitude practice can take as little as 5 minutes each day. You can start by simply writing down three things you are grateful for each morning. There are also many books that provide daily affirmations and podcasts that create a background for mindful contemplation of our many blessings.
We return thanks to our Mother, the Earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams which supply us with water…
We return thanks to the moon and stars which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun that has looked upon the Earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of her children.
4. Create a Music Playlist
Music is one of the best ways to reconnect with our emotions, remind us of happy times and remember our humanity. Here are a few of my personal favorite for a Gratitude Mix:
- Forever Young – Bob Dylan
- Kind and Generous – Natalie Merchant
- Living the Dream – Drake White
- Grateful – Rita Ora
- So Quiet in Here – Van Morrison
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- We are Family – Sister Sledge
- America the Beautiful – Katharine Lee Bates
And for a quick pop of appreciation, check out this flashmob video:
4. Adopt an animal
Our shelter dog, Tally, brings joy and gratitude to our lives every day. What better way to show appreciation for all we have than to rescue another? Check out the National Humane Society for an adoption center near you. And if you can’t commit to adoption, consider making a donation or lending a helpful hand.
If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share. W. Clement Stone
Modern Sanctuary wishes you a joyous Thanksgiving!