Thanksgiving looks a lot different this year for most of us, and that could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how excited you were to see your in-laws and distant cousins. With the uncertainty of 2020, our gratitude attitudes may have shifted slightly or had even been buried away. Now is an excellent time to toss your expectations of how you think you should feel out the window and focus on how you do feel.
Gratitude is “the quality of being thankful, and readiness to show appreciation, and return kindness.” However, when practicing and expressing gratitude, it does not mean that it is rainbows and butterflies all the time. Gratitude helps us get to a mindset where we are present in the moment where we can appreciate the “positives” during stressful and frightening situations. When you find yourself in a situation where you feel overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, and possibly angry (for me, this has been 80% of 2020), try to recall three things at the moment that are going okay, if not great, in your life.
This may not be easy to do, but here are some examples of things to be grateful for…
- Having a job that allows me to work remotely
- Researchers working day in and day out to develop a vaccine for COVID-19
- Having the time to self-reflect and learn what matters to us
- Healthcare workers are doing their best to help those affected by COVID-19
- The ability to read this blog post
Gratitude is not only an attitude, but it is also a tool. This tool can help ground us during troubled times and train our minds to be more optimistic and gracious daily. Try implementing these tips into your daily routine.
- Make a habit of writing down three things you are grateful for before going to bed, and when you wake up in the morning.
- Practice mindful eating, and give thanks to the growers who grew the food on your table
- Make a list of the following things that bring you joy. Keep this list tucked away and bring it out during a stressful time.
- Your safe place
- Something you look forward to
- Something that is going well for you
- Reflect on a moment in your life that brought you joy
Even if your Thanksgiving plans got turned upside down and shaken around, be grateful to have the opportunity to make new traditions and the minimal amount of dishes that you’ll have to wash on Thursday evening. Use Thanksgiving 2020 as a teaching holiday, and teach your loved ones that even when you don’t have it all together, at least together, you have it all.
So, go ahead and have an extra slice of pumpkin pie and eat the last crescent roll; you have survived this much of 2020. You deserve it!
Sarah Joyer, MSW