As the calendar turns to the year’s penultimate month, all eyes are on the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving is up next, full of hearty meals, parade floats, and American football games. This is an exciting time for everyone, and it’s a season we all look forward to.
Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what you have, but sometimes being grateful is easier said than done. Life is full of hardships, many of which have been magnified by Covid-19 and other present-day calamities. Not to mention the growing rate of depression and anxiety forming among both children and adults today.
Being thankful in 2021 doesn’t have to be so difficult. With just a few steps, you can change your entire outlook on life and really be able to stop and smell the roses on your way to 2022. Here are some of the things you can do to be more appreciative:
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal
One of the simplest things you can do to become more thankful is to keep a gratitude journal. All you need is a notebook and a pen. Then, each day, write down at least one thing that you were thankful for before bed. Keep up this habit for at least a couple of weeks.
Some days you might struggle to find a single thing to write down. So do your best to write down at least one thing, even if it’s just thankful for oxygen. Over time, you’ll be able to pick out more and more things that you’re grateful for, which will gradually improve your outlook on life.
Use your Calendar to stay on top of your gratitude journal for as long as you need it. Creating an evening habit is your best bet so you can reflect on the day you’ve had. Consistency is critical here, so try not to miss a single day if you can help it.
2. Lend a Hand
Giving service to others is one of the best ways to be more positive and thankful regarding your own life. For starters, witnessing the struggles of others can be eye-opening to your life where your problems pale in comparison. Second, there are few feelings as heart-warming as hearing someone be thankful for you and your time and effort to help another human being.
With the holiday season starting to get underway, there are sure to be several community events where your services will be beneficial. Don an apron at a soup kitchen, volunteer at a nursing home, or deliver presents to an orphanage. Pay attention to the smile you’ll have on your drive home and think about how much more thankful you are for things now than you were starting the day.
Every time you plan to volunteer and serve, add the event to your Calendar. Feel free to send calendar invitations to friends and family members you think would enjoy the outing as well.
3. Make a Change
In addition to looking outside of yourself, take some time to do some introspection. Are there aspects about yourself or your situation that you can improve? It’s easy to blame the world when things aren’t going your way, but more often than not, there are steps you can take to improve your situation. In addition, you’ll find it much easier to be thankful after you’ve made the necessary changes.
Start by cleaning up your room. We’ve all put off this task for longer than we should, so there’s no shame in admitting it now. You’ll feel much better once your laundry pile is put away and your bedroom floor is finally clear once again. Isn’t it easier now to be thankful for where you live and the things you own now that everything is tidy?
Other changes will be more profound, such as breaking a smoking habit or getting back into shape. It will take a lot of hard work, but after making those changes, you’ll be so glad you did. You’ll be more thankful for your health and for the activities you can now participate in.
4. Say Thank You More Often
Need another simple solution to lift up your spirits? Say thank you more often! These two words can be powerful when used in repetition, significantly if you’ve fallen out of the habit.
Let’s say you forgot to bring your lunch to work, and that’s soured your mood a little. Of course, you might only be at Taco Bell for that reason, but still, take the time to say thank you to everyone who serves you. Doesn’t that make you feel a little better? You might even make the day of a food service worker who’s having an even more challenging day.
5. Surround Yourself With Loved Ones
Sure, people can ruin your day by being rude and inconsiderate. But, forget them for a second. Instead, you’ll find it much easier to be thankful when you surround yourself with supportive, loving individuals. Family and friends are so important if you want gratitude to abound in your life.
A social experiment showed that individuals increased their happiness levels by considerable amounts when they took time out of their day to call a loved one and express their gratitude to them. Now imagine if you made an effort to express such feelings regularly. Then, your family and friends will reciprocate your gratitude and fill your life with so much joy and kindness.
With Covid-19 regulations being lowered, make time in your Calendar to hang out with these essential people more often. Take an old friend out to lunch, go visit your grandparents, or go to the movies with your in-laws. These little activities will give you so much to be thankful for.
This Thanksgiving, make an effort to find more gratitude than ever. The holiday season will be much more enjoyable as you put these simple steps to the test to end the year.
Image Credit: Marcus Wöckel; Pexels; Thank you!
Hunter Meine is a BYU-Idaho graduate, husband, father, and writer. When he's not writing, he's playing sports or enjoying the outdoors with his wife and daughter.