I stumbled upon a great article about gratitude recently and thought it was good timing with that all-American holiday of Thanksgiving coming up. For me, Thanksgiving conjures up fond memories of kitchen fires, long-forgotten relatives in bathrobes on the front yard, turkey comas, laughs and tears (thanks to my family’s beloved Texas Aggies), bored games (that is not a typo), and pre-Black Friday tactical planning. Then I was reminded what this holiday is all about. Sure, I am usually thankful that Whataburger is open on Thanksgiving, but it is a day to reflect on what we are truly thankful for. But why should this be limited to this one day? The research is clear: being consciously grateful more often is better for our mental health.
I can hear you now: “of course you are grateful, you work in HR! You are living the dream!” And while this is true, and unfortunately not everyone can have a day filled with policy revisions and the occasional employee complaining about the amount of long overdue leftovers in the communal fridge, that doesn’t mean we can’t all find something to be grateful for.
One tip that I took up about 5 years ago was keeping a Gratitude Journal and putting a tickler reminder every week to make an entry in it. My wife and son are frequent fliers, for sure, but that isn’t the idea. The idea is to recognize the little things, like a type of pen I’ve discovered, the ability to buy jeans off of Amazon, camping trips and weekends. The rule is I put down at least one, but usually three things I’m grateful for at that moment. It isn’t always easy. For example, below is my entry from a few years ago when, earlier in the week, I had lost my best friend, a Chocolate Lab named Chip.
Or from a year earlier, after losing my dad:
But even in these times of loss I am able to find something to be grateful, and that always lifts my spirits.
So, don’t let this holiday be the only day you find gratitude. I would challenge you to set a reminder at least once a week to take a moment and reflect on things you are grateful for. It’ll change your life.