Why Giving Thanks Isn’t Just for November
I’ve heard a lot of talk about gratitude lately. It goes hand in hand with this time of year, so I’m not completely surprised. But I think it’s important to use November not as the one month you focus on giving thanks, but as a reminder that you should be doing it all year long.
Two instances where I heard about it this week were on podcasts that I listen to regularly. The first one, The Chase Jarvis Live Show, discussed the importance of a daily practice. This—thanks to Chase—is something I’ve been actively doing all year long as part of my morning routine (which is a modified version of the one he talked about on his YouTube show, Chase Jarvis Raw 2.0). It only takes a few minutes, but it can set the tone for your whole day. Before I started doing it I spent a lot of time focusing on the things I didn’t have and went through the day coming from a place of lack. Once I started being consciously grateful everyday that completely changed, and so did how my days went. I haven’t missed a day since I sat down and chose to be grateful that first time, and it’s made this year one of my best.
The second show, The Saturday Night Special with Amy Guth (this is a radio broadcast from WGN in Chicago that I download the next day and listen to), also discussed having a regular routine—especially with all the craziness in the country right now. But it also dug into the effects of gratitude from a few different angles (the guests included a social worker, an evolutionary psychologist, and a life coach) including socially and scientifically—you’d be surprised how looking inward to give thanks also affects the outside world.
I think the big takeaway from these shows is that if you give thanks regularly your life is going to change for the better.
So how does it work?
My initial gratitude practice comes early in the morning, at the tail end of meditating. It makes sense for me because I’m already open and relaxed, so it’s easy to think of the things I’m grateful for. And that list varies from close, personal things (my wife and cat) to broader ideas (compassion and creativity). There’s no right or wrong here; you can have gratitude for anything in your life, no matter how big or small. For me the whole thing only takes about three to five minutes.
While I start my day with gratitude, sometimes I get caught up in my day and forget to slow down and be appreciative; I can’t imagine this doesn’t happen from time to time for even the most dedicated practitioner. So to remind me, I have an alarm set on my phone that goes off at 1 P.M. That’s right around the most hectic time for me, so having that little reminder allows me to come up for air and remember to be appreciative again for the rest of the day. It works pretty well.
I urge you to give gratitude practice a try. Especially in this political climate and with the stress of the holidays, it can make a huge difference in your outlook. Start by listening to these two podcast episodes, and then you can follow this Gratitude Journal Prompt from one of the Saturday Night Special guests, Sharon Martin. Give it two weeks and see how you feel. I’d love to hear how it works out for you, so let me know.
The Chase Jarvis Show.
The Saturday Night Special