The UK has been influenced by many stateside trends and habits over the years and, although Thanksgiving hasn’t been one of them (for obvious reasons),due to our increased mobility around the globe and modern technology I seem to be surrounded by Thanksgiving more than ever this year. Whether it’s American friends on social media, those from this country who hold the US dear to their hearts and have adopted the practice, or authors and bloggers sharing their plans and thoughts on the holiday, my newsfeed has been awash with all things Thanksgiving.
I love the idea of setting aside time to be grateful, and am an advocate of the benefits of gratitude. From keeping a thanksgiving journal to posting #100happydays on Instagram, I have found the deliberate practice of giving thanks to be one of the most uplifting things I can do.
The wonderful thing about gratitude is that the more you do it, the more you find to be grateful for. It’s as though you’ve learned to look for hidden treasure and once you recognise what real treasure is, you find it everywhere. The embrace of a loved one, a sunlit field of corn on an autumn morning, the innocent joy of child skipping down the road, a listening ear over a warm cup of tea.
When we lived for a time in Jamaica one of the things that I loved most was the response that many Christian friends gave when we asked how they were.
“Giving thanks”, came the reply.
That someone would summarize their entire wellbeing as an attitude of thanksgiving.
What would it mean for me to live a life ‘giving thanks’?
How would it change my perspective if, rather than grumble about what was not, I was grateful for what was? If I found ways to give thanks for the simple things, instead of yearning for the more that is just out of reach?
As I wake in the morning, what if I began the day giving thanks for the breath in my body, the warmth of the shower, the clothes on my back and the work to which I put my hand?
As my stomach rumbles in the approach to lunch, instead of wolfing down my food to stop the hunger, what if I was truly thankful for the sustenance, savouring each mouthful and enjoying the company of those who shared my table? A simple everyday lunch time could be transformed into a feast of flavours and friendship.
And what if I was to verbalise my gratitude more often, rather than just think it to myself? Would it have an impact not just on my state of wellbeing, but on those around me? If people knew how thankful I was for their presence in my life, for their wisdom, their service, for making me smile, would they be encouraged to do those things more often and for others?
One of my favourite quotes is this one from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Each and every day is crammed full of things to be thankful for, if only we have the eyes to see them.
I want to seek them out.
To set out in the morning as an adventurer looking for that day’s treasure, coming home laden with loot from the things I’ve found. To share the joys and wonders so that others might be thankful too.
And so I begin today.
On this day of Thanksgiving I will set my alarm for every hour – a reminder to step back from my keyboard and look around. To speak words of gratitude, to those in front of me and to my Father above me. To see what I so often overlook. To find what is forgotten on every other day.
Well maybe the alarm won’t go every hour, but I think I’ll keep it for one hour of every day.
A way to begin practising what it means to live, not just a day, but a life ‘giving thanks’.