Today’s big idea is, no surprise about gratitude. After all, it’s Thanksgiving in the US. Essentially a national day of gratitude.
Thanksgiving is my favorite family holiday because it’s really about coming together and sharing a good meal. And there’s no pressure of choosing gifts or spending a bunch of money. It’s just about enjoying food (something I’m always down for) and being thankful. I even love the cooking and the clean up because that too is communal in a way that it typically isn’t. And it’s a given that you’re going to be cooking a lot that day. You’re not also trying to get work done or do projects around the house. You’re just cooking, and that helps you settle in and embrace it.
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I should also give a shout out to my in laws here because we typically spend Thanksgiving with them.
And they are very grounded, unfussy, fun people who enjoy eating and talking and drinking… and then going home. They joke that every family get together lasts four hours so it’s never rushed and it never drags on too long. Even the big holidays, like Thanksgiving.
The one nod to the deeper meaning of the holiday that I like to do is to go around the table and everyone names one thing that they’re grateful for. You know, it’s not a speech or a big to-do. You’re just naming something, and you can always say family or food and it’s not a big deal. BUT some very meaningful and memorable moments have come out of that exercise.
One year, after my husband’s work life got totally upended and we had to re-think just about everything. He said he was thankful for me and my support and understanding. And while I never doubt how he feels about me, and he’s supportive, and funny ,and honest, he’s also not Mr. Declarative about his emotions. And I was really touched by that. Another year, my son, who was 6 at the time, said he was thankful to his mom for giving him life. So deep and so sweet. And if you’re a mom you know that you often don’t hear the sweet deep thanks from your kids so that one has really stuck with me.
So I am here to personally attest that hearing someone else speak their capital-T Thanks out-loud is really powerful.
If you’ve listened for a while you know I’m a fan of writing down your thoughts and feelings. Especially in response to certain questions or prompts that can help you figure out what you really think or feel in a way that is harder to do when you’re just internally mulling it over. I know we’ve all heard the advice to keep a gratitude journal and I’m not knocking it. BUT, when it comes to gratitude, there really is something extra powerful about saying it out loud.
Science backs this up, too. Martin Seligman, the founder of the field of Positive Psychology studied what he called a gratitude visit. Where one person writes a letter of thanks to another person, and then reads that letter out loud and in person to the recipient. Studies have shown that if you are really engaged in the gratitude visit concept–it’s your idea and you’re into it, and not just doing it because someone told you. That the experience can provide benefits in increased wellbeing and lower depressive symptoms for as long as 9 months afterward! Perhaps it can be an experience that you and/or your recipient savor for years afterward, too, like I do with those simple comments around the Thanksgiving table.
Daily Tiny Assignment
So your tiny assignment is to tell someone why you’re grateful for them. Maybe you’re listening to this as you’re cooking for Thanksgiving and you can get the folks you’re having your big meal with to go around the table and do it. Or maybe the holiday has passed or you’re spending it on your own, in which case you could either just do it at your next gathered meal. OR, you could go whole hog and write that gratitude letter to someone who did something that you don’t feel you’ve adequately thanked them for, and then call them, or Zoom them, or ask to get together with them and read it to them. Remember, it’s not the writing that you’re seeking to do — it’s the speaking it out loud.
Thanks for listening to today. I am so grateful for you!
To take the time out of your busy life to listen to something that might help you see things in a new way or try something new, and for giving a shit about being a better person. It gives me so much hope and resolve to know that you care, and that there are so many of us who care. I hope you have a lovely holiday.