If the beast of a year called 2020 has taught us anything, it is this: no matter how dark things may seem, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. I have so often caught myself focusing on what 2020 has taken from me: trips and vacations, experiences, crowded events, and family members we have lost. But other times I realize those things I “lost” have pointed me to those things I’ve had all along but didn’t stop to be grateful for every minute of every day: a safe place to call home, precious time with my family, and the joy of extended family and friends still alive and healthy. For everything 2020 may have “stolen” it has replaced with gentle simplicity. Things that were always there, we were just too busy to notice and reflect general gratitude for. Maybe all the chaos was meant to, in a way, reflect us back to the simple pursuits of life: a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, a job to pay the bills, and family and friends to do life with. We may not have physically seen those we love in the past months, but the assurance of their health and the gift of technology keep us connected. The holidays may look and feel different this year, but our gratitude for life can and should grow the most during this time. Being grateful can flow from our emotions and feelings, but it’s also a choice, and one that can turn everything around for us, if we choose to focus on being grateful for what we do have. How do we find gratitude in the midst of a hard season? Is that even possible? Absolutely! Let’s look at NUMEROUS ways to turn a difficult season into a time of finding who and what we are thankful for.
What Is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a word we hear often, and one we are encouraged to show and experience in our life. So what exactly does it mean? The word “gratitude” comes from the latin root word gratia which means graciousness, gratefulness, and grace. Gratitude itself is an outward (and inward) expression of thankfulness, expressing appreciation and recognition to someone (or something) that has had an impact on one’s life making them grateful and wanting to express their feelings of the importance of the other’s generosity. What can being grateful and showing gratitude do for you, personally?
- Acknowledges the good things in your life
- Brings greater, consistent happiness
- Helps build strong relationships
- Improves your overall health
- Reduces your level of stress
- Helps you feel more positive emotions
- Helps you savor and appreciate good experiences
What Are Some Things We Are (Or CAN Be) Grateful For?
A negative frame of mind only sees the bad, but a positive frame of mind chooses to look past the negative and focus on the positive. When we focus our mind and attention on what we ARE grateful for, things fall into place in a positive way. So, in the midst of a dark season, what can we be grateful for?
- Your health – Whether you are feeling better than ever or you are finding yourself in a hard time in your health journey, YOU ARE ALIVE AND STILL HERE!!
- Family, friends and pets
- A place to live
- Food to eat
- A job to pay your bills and provide you with your home, food, clothing and basic needs
- The ability to step outside and breathe fresh air
- You have the opportunity to get an education, however much or little you want
- A bed to sleep in
- The ability to read and write
- Technology to keep you connected to your family and friends, near and far
- The gift of laughter
- Time – We’ve been given more time to enjoy life in this season
- The beauty of nature – more time to enjoy sunrises, sunsets, the outdoors and the beauty that is nature
Ways you can express gratitude to others and keep yourself in a grateful spirit:
- Send someone a thank you note – Did something do or say something that showed you gratitude or meant a lot to you? Send them a thank you note, keep the cycle of gratitude going.
- Keep a gratitude journal – Everyday write down at least one thing you are grateful for. Look back on your journal months later as a reminder of the good things in your life.
- Pray – People of faith find that time in prayer allows them to thank God for His many gifts and blessings to us.
Finding Gratitude In The Midst Of Chaos
This year has brought us more time at home, more time to think and recognize things and people we were too busy to appreciate, people that are truly essential to life and allowing us to live well.
- Quarantine/Lockdown – Being stuck at home gave us precious time with our families/friends that we would not have had otherwise
- Essential Workers – We found ourselves being grateful for doctors, nurses, hospital workers, teachers, delivery drivers, grocery store employees, postal service workers, more so than we ever thought to be.
Make Time For THANKSGIVING In The Midst Of 2020
Thanksgiving is more than a meal. It’s more than turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie; it’s what it’s very name is rooted in: Giving thanks, in ALL things, in ALL seasons, in ALL circumstances. Gratitude puts our focus on WHAT we have, the good things in our lives, and takes our focus off of what we DON’T have. There’s a popular saying that states, “we are what we focus on.” We can choose to find joy by focusing on the good things we have or we can live in anger and sadness by focusing on the things we don’t have. Loss of loved ones is real, it is hard, it has hit my family too, but those that we have lost would be the first to tell me to focus on who I have right here in front of me. Sometimes life is just plainly out of our control. If we choose to focus on that which we have no control, anger and frustration takes the front seat of our focus and our mood, in turn, takes a downward spiral. If we focus on the good things in our lives, we force that negative to the backseat, letting our gratitude and happiness be the driver. And THAT is the road I want to be on, always.
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