Here we are, Thanksgiving 2017... The holidays can be a time of joy, family, fun, stress and for some, sadness and loneliness. The holidays seem to amplify every emotion we have bubbling under the surface. I spent a lot of time yesterday doing something different. I decided to send "Gratitude Messages" to some important people in my life. I did this not only to help lift others up, but to help lift myself up as well.
Many years ago, I heard Oprah speak about a "Gratitude Journal" that she kept. She wrote in it every day. Throughout the day, she would jot things in that journal. Sometimes they were big things, but often times, they were the little things. One of her examples was being grateful for waking up. That is something that we often take for granted, but we probably shouldn't. Her reason? When you go through the day, looking for things to be grateful for, it changes your day and it changes you. I loved this idea, so I started my own. I will be honest that it has a lot on the first few pages and it has been blank for the past few years. This doesn't mean that there were not things to be grateful for, I just didn't write them down. BUT, from that first day forth...I do set an intent to go through the day looking for those "bright spots" no matter how big or how small...it really does change you.
Another interesting thing...this morning, I went back and re-read my blog post from last Thanksgiving (this is something I rarely do), I don't even remember writing it. In it, I decided to reflect on things in my life that I was thankful for...this one below, stuck out today:
"My experiences: We are all shaped by our experiences, it is what we choose to do with those experiences that make the difference. We can choose to either repeat or change those stories for others. I choose to help create a new narrative. Through my experiences, I have learned how much people need to feel valued and appreciated. We are all doing the best we can, at the time, with what we have...and often times, we feel it isn't enough. So I have made a conscious effort to always...always let people know that they are important and valued. I try my best to show appreciation and let them know about all the good that they are doing. This is completely authentic and sincere, and I hope that is how it comes across. I have also learned how important it is to support and help others grow. I try to find that "thing" in everyone and foster and grow that."
I still believe this. That is why I sent those "Gratitude Messages" yesterday. But here is the thing. Thanksgiving is not the only day that I send those, for those exact reasons I wrote about last year. I often, randomly let people know that they are valued and appreciated. For most people, they don't seem to know what to do with me when I send them. I usually send a "warning" message first that things are about to get #mushy :). But why? Why are people uncomfortable with words of gratitude? Is it because it is not the norm? Is it because they don't believe it? I always hesitate before I say or send them, because I don't want to put people off...but I believe that people need to hear about their good. There is enough negative chatter both inside and outside of our own heads, we need a different narrative. So this is why I do it...and here is the thing...it is completely authentic. I am not one to blow smoke, I don't say things that I don't believe.
So here is my call to action: Don't wait until this specific holiday to look for and appreciate what you are grateful for. Let those in your life know that they matter. You friends, family, colleagues and most importantly, your students. We all want to know we are valued and cared about...let's not leave people wondering. Make everyday a Thanksgiving.
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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