Practicing Gratitude

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.gratitude_#21

I love that it’s about slowing down, taking notice of the abundance around us, and appreciating those we love and who have supported us in our lives.

But I have to be honest: when I first sat down to write this post, I wasn’t feeling very grateful.

It is so easy to become focused on what we don’t have, haven’t yet achieved, or still want for our lives.  It can be difficult to pause and appreciate our accomplishments. While it’s good to be motivated and have goals, sometimes we are too hard on ourselves when we think we aren’t achieving enough.

I guess this is one reason why Before and After photos work. The Before photo doesn’t lie – you can see, in great detail, how you used to weigh 20 pounds more than you do now, or that your house was in shambles before the remodel, or that your child has grown into a mature, contributing member of the family and society.

Too bad we can’t have a Before and After photo of our personal and professional accomplishments. 

Remember how I said I wasn’t feeling very grateful when I first sat down to write this post? Then something wonderful happened.

A very close friend texted me to say that her baby had arrived.

What an immediate attitude adjustment! A baby’s arrival to a dear friend long awaiting the birth is such an exciting time. I was filled with joy and an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

If you fall prey, like I do, to forgetting to be grateful, consider this practice. Some people do it daily; if that feels too hard, then just do it once around Thanksgiving.

  • Go around the table at dinner and have each person say what you are thankful for.
  • Make a paper “tree” on the wall with leaves that each person in the family can fill with words that describe what they are thankful for. You can add one leaf per person in the family per day until it’s filled.
  • Before you get out of bed in the morning, think of three things you are grateful for.
  • If possible, have a journal next to your bed and write those three things down. Read them again when you go to bed.

Photo credit: aussiegall 30 Days of Gratitude- Day 12 via photopin All rights reserved by the author

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2 Responses to Practicing Gratitude

  1. Jodi Petty November 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    Hello Merideth,

    I want to express my abundant gratitude to you for encouraging me to ‘go with my gut’ and start my family! I am so happy to have Ella in our lives and can’t even imagine the thought of her not! You played a big part in that soul searching chapter, by showing me my true self and my long term desires.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving… we have so much to be thankful for! I am going to go cut a big paper tree out right now… and lots and lots of leaves to fill it’s branches… what a wonderful idea.

    Jodi

  2. Merideth Mehlberg December 5, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Jodi – So happy for you and thank you for writing in. Yes, on the other side it feels much different, doesn’t it? And you and I, we will never take it for granted, will we? Glad you liked the tree idea, we did a variation this year writing on individual paper leaves and placing them on the napkin rings at the table and each person read theirs off during the meal.

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