Some people say gratitude is a medicine—that saying “thank you” for every experience is key to good mental health.
And that doesn’t mean we should be grateful or thankful only on special days like Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s easy (for me) to be thankful for the usual things: for my family, for my health, for hugs from Joy, for kisses from Deb, for my career, for living in a time of peace (the first Thanksgiving America has not been at war in 21 years), for the food on my plate (and Instacart!).
But we should also find a way to say “thank you” for the less obvious things: for the setbacks, for the people who irritate us, for having our life disrupted by a pandemic, for the loss of a job or whatever other problems we might be experiencing.
That pain in my knees (yes, both knees now)—thank you, it’s making me take things slow. That 30 pounds of weight gain—thanks for reminding me that I’m not getting enough exercise. That mistake I made—thank you for reminding me to be more careful, for teaching me a lesson. The pandemic—thank you, for the hundreds and hundreds of days at home with Joy and Deb. Thank you, for showing me what is and is not essential. Thank you, for giving me the opportunity to structure my life around the people and routines that matter most.
Every situation has two handles. You can decide to grab on to anger or appreciation. You can pick up the handle of resentment or of gratitude. I pick up anger every day. But Joy Elizabeth is helping me pick up gratitude more often.
So as you gather around your family and friends this Thanksgiving (or Christmas), appreciate it and give thanks for all the obvious stuff.
Just make sure that when the holiday passes, as you go back to your everyday, ordinary life that you make gratitude a regular part of it. Again—not simply for what is easy to like, but for all of it, for every day.