Perspectives on Thankfulness

Perspectives on Thankfulness

By Emily Mok

Perspectives on Thankfulness

In the midst of a chaotic life and a busy holiday season, sometimes we can only become orderly through lists. Groceries. To-do. Gifts. Random things to remember. If it isn't written down, it gets lost in the chaos. But in the midst of our list-oriented lives, we can get caught up in all of the things we have to do. And the thing about lists is that you have a visual way to see how much you've accomplished and how much you didn’t finish that’s left for tomorrow. Although we're probably all fans of leftovers, especially during Thanksgiving, leftovers on a to-do list can impact our ability to practice thankfulness. 

Now some food for thought, if you will…Gratitude is like a muscle - if used often, it becomes stronger therefore easier to practice. As mentioned before, having a blunt measurement of the things left undone can lead to a “never enough” mentality.

In an attempt to exercise this muscle of thankfulness, we've drawn the conclusion that gratitude is about noticing. Noticing all of the things you’ve checked off your lists. Noticing the tasks that were so mundane they didn’t even make the list. Like getting out of bed, maybe. Or making yourself (or others) breakfast. Maybe it’s making it to work on time (bonus points if you kept your cool while in traffic).

Gratitude is about noticing the checked off boxes as well as noticing all the things that were left unchecked. Maybe that carwash that you’ve been putting off. Or that email you’ve been meaning to write. Or that call to a relative you've been meaning to make. In seeing both and letting the unchecked boxes exist, we are able to let the good truly be good. In recognizing the things we haven’t done alongside the things we have done, a sense of peace tends to wash over - seeing where we were, where we are now, and where we are going. We are able to take a deep breath and feel hopeful about the growth to come because we can also appreciate the growth we’ve already done. 

Gratitude may come easier when we take a step back and look more intentionally about what’s happening, both good and bad. Counting all of the wins and losses - or works in progress - and then giving ourselves a little gold star and pat on the back at the end of the day. If we are able to do this for ourselves, I dare say it becomes easier to do for others too. 

Now this isn’t to say, “Only look at the good!” That would completely negate the point. I am simply trying to say that when we look at both ends of the spectrum, accepting all the checked and unchecked boxes, we are able to find more contentment and appreciation for where we are. I am encouraging you, friends, to let both coexist! 

Practicing thankfulness can be difficult. It can be easy to get caught up in the chaos and forget to look at the good around us or take a second to pat ourselves on the back after overcoming something difficult. But the start of strengthening this “Gratitude muscle” of ours is to practice counting and noticing the small wins and losses. Despite circumstance, we will be able to remain steadfast in recognizing the good around us - allowing us to truly be a part of the holiday spirit!

Sincerely, Sunday