If you happen to be in the USA today then Happy Thanksgiving to ya. Hope you have a great day with people who matter to you.
Save me a slice of pie.
If you’re not in the USA read on anyway, because there’s some important stuff here.
I’m running the risk of sounding as vapid as a Miss World contestant when talking about gratitude – it sounds like it fits right in with talking about world peace and how the children are the future.
I’m not a fan of the fluffy bunny school of self-help (I’ve pissed off a few coaches in my time), so while I may stray once or twice into the fluffy zone in this article my intention is to talk about what ‘giving thanks’ and ‘being grateful’ means in practical terms – terms that you can take away as use productively for the benefit of your confidence and self esteem.
How being thankful is relevant to YOU
First up, a couple of definitions for you –
1. to express gratitude, appreciation, or acknowledgment to.
2. a grateful feeling or acknowledgment of a benefit, favor, or the like, expressed by words or otherwise.
3. have oneself to thank; have the responsibility.
1. the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.
So with those definitions in mind, being thankful and grateful is about 3 things.
1. Acknowledging the good stuff.
If you’re going about your days without seeing the good stuff or noticing what makes you feel good, then you’re missing out on some of life’s most simple pleasures.
2. Taking responsibility.
A huge part of experiencing thankfulness is being responsible for your own experiences. It’s very easy to go about your life, bouncing from one thing to the next while disregarding and disowning the successes you have.
You think to yourself, “I didn’t do anything“, “That was just a fluke, I got lucky” and “I can’t believe that happened, I don’t deserve it“, or even worse, you don’t think at all about your successes and the good stuff you have around you.
To really nail this ‘thanks’ business, you need to honestly and simply own your successes and all the good things you have in yourself and your life. This isn’t about being smug, it’s about being honest.
3. It’s not what you do.
Gratitude and thanks are about how you are, not what you do.
It’s about experiencing the feeling of being thankful or grateful, and allowing that feeling to happen without stamping on it, forcing it or over-thinking it.
But hang on just a cotton-pickin minute there. Why be thankful at all? What’s the point?
A simple way to answer that question is to look at the alternative. What would it be like if nobody was thankful or grateful? What would it be like if nobody batted an eyelid when something good happened? How would it be if you never paid attention to what feels good in your life?
The point of being thankful is to make your life a richer place to spend time in.
Gratitude isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, it makes a fundamental difference to how you experience life.
That’s why there’s a big link between being grateful and how you feel about yourself, because you can only do those 3 things if you have a healthy level of self-esteem and feel confident enough to express what matters to you. That’s why it has to start with participating fully in your life.
Get that nailed and it can grow and grow. The richness of experience it gives adds to your self-confidence and self-esteem. The shift of perception it offers you allows to notice and leverage more of the good stuff around you every day. The value it adds to you allows you to be a better version of yourself, and that ripples out and touches everyone else in your life.
At the end of the day, the best way of giving thanks is to add to the richness of experience of someone else.
Here’s something to try. No cheating.
1. When you wake up tomorrow morning write down 7 things that you’re grateful for. Be as specific as you can. Don’t just scribble down ‘My family’, write down ‘How my husband smiled at me this morning’.
2. Before you go to bed tomorrow night, write down another 7 things that you’re grateful for. Be specific and don’t duplicate any you wrote down in the morning.
3. Now comes the tough bit – repeat this routine every day for a total of 21 days. 7 things in the morning, 7 things in the evening.
4. Don’t repeat any. If you duplicate one, start from day 1 again.
It sounds tricky, but it’s a bloody good exercise. You’ll be richer for it, trust me.