Don't be a gratitude grinch this holiday ...
2020 has been quite bananas of a year, hasn't it? There certainly has been no shortage of issues to worry about - our own health, loved ones' health, job security, adjusting to new work routines, new school routines, new family routines, wondering about safety protocol enforcement at the stores we visit when we food shop, bank or otherwise venture out and about, runs on cleaning supplies or food staples, and the stress of deciding about social gatherings where there will be others who have different views about the importance of socially distancing and wearing a mask. The list seems overwhelmingly endless, exhausting and sometimes dispiriting.
It is certainly understandable how it may be difficult for you to muster feelings of gratitude this Thanksgiving season. But that is no reason to act like the Grinch and throw in the towel!
Having a grateful outlook has so many positive benefits that it's worth trying to develop it. And it's like any other skill, you can develop it. You don't need to be born with it. It just takes practice to fold it into your daily life.
Our top tip is to ever day think of five things you're grateful for - we have folded this into our evening ritual - but you can do it at any time - as long as it is consistent. Before we talk a bit more about this tip let's take a step back and look at gratitude in general.
Why is gratitude so important? Having a grateful outlook, appreciating what you have and recognizing moments of gratitude will make you feel better and live a better, more enjoyable life. How? When you're grateful for all your blessings, including your relationships with other people, you respect them more and don't act entitled. When you're grateful the little irritations and inconveniences of the day more easily roll off your back, making you more likable and more enjoyable to be around. And you'll like being around yourself more too. And when you like yourself you treat yourself gently, with the respect so often reserved for other people. This sounds like a marvelous outcome all the way around.
Back to our top tip of identifying five things to be grateful for - everyday. Well, sometimes - like during a world pandemic - it may be hard to find things in our lives to be grateful for. That is why we love the idea we first heard from author, Rachel Hollis, of starting small. Don't, for example do what so many do by generically thinking, "I'm grateful for my health, my job, and my family" and call it a day. That is too broad, too general, and too repetitive - and it soon will have no real meaning and you'll stop doing it because it doesn't help cultivate a routine of gratitude because it is just full of platitudes.
Instead, find the small moments in your day that bring a smile to your face, or a feeling of relief, contentment or thankfulness. The beauty of this approach is that nothing is too small. And when you know you'll be ending your day with a daily list of gratitude you'll start seeking them out throughout the day - cultivating that grateful mindset.
A world pandemic certainly has been a reset for so many people - slowing down and getting back to basics. So be grateful for that big cup of coffee that starts your day. Be grateful that you had a video chat with an old friend. Be grateful that you had a work colleague who helped you on a project. Be grateful the new eye cream took away your eye bags. Be grateful for that glass of wine and the sheet face mask you had. Be grateful for found time to read a book for pleasure. Be grateful for your family's movie night. Be grateful that that close-call in the parking lot didn't result in an accident. Be grateful that your new recipe turned out fantastic! You get the picture. Small but impactful.
And because Thanksgiving is the time when our thoughts often turn to gratitude and thankfulness grace or some other form of thanks is often said at many dinner tables. While most everyone's Thanksgiving dinner will look a little bit different this year - in hopes of healthy loved ones to sit with at next year's Thanksgiving celebration - we thought it a great time to review the basics of saying grace. Some households say it at every meal, or every dinner while some only say it on special occasions or not at all. Because household traditions vary greatly many don't know what to do. Here are the basics -
In a nutshell, the host traditionally says grace. They may ask someone else to say it - it is marvelously well-mannered for the host to not spring their request on the person in public, at the table. Instead, they should privately ask the other person - say the matriarch of the extended family or a member of the clergy - if they would like to say grace. This gives them the ability to politely decline without any awkwardness.
The host should signal - just as people are taking their seats - that grace will be said. That is the signal that you are not to touch anything on the table until grace has been said.
One does not to eat or drink before grace is said. Nor does one remove their napkin from the table and place it on their lap before grace is said. If you are following your host's lead (as you always should) and wait for them to touch their napkin and eat before you do, you'll never have a problem of being caught off guard with saying grace. Don't rush. Poised people wait.
When grace is being said, one should show respect to their host by participating with a slight bow of the head while looking down. One doesn't try to peer out at surrounding dining companions. If you don't want to fully participate you don't need too - you just shouldn't make a scene by being rude and disrespectful in signaling your objection to the table saying grace.
Gratitude is such a wonderful and resilient skill to develop. It is a way of intentionally and positively viewing the world and our blessings in it. So try to find moments to weave it into your life - it could be daily recaps of gratitude, saying grace or letting a heartfelt "thank you" pass over your lips on a regular basis. These little moments all add up to positively influence your mindset and your day. What's not to love about that?
Have a safe and joyous Thanksgiving and no Grinches allowed! -