It's just one week before Thanksgiving. A Thanksgiving that promises to be wildly different than those of years gone by. So this year it's more important than ever to remember what the holiday is all about: Gratitude.
Despite all the challenges of the past year, and the challenges that are yet to come, we can still experience gratitude. Best part? Going to gratitude is one of the surest ways to bring yourself back to the present moment and recenter. It’s nearly impossible to dwell in negativity when you’re focused on gratitude.
We’ve all heard of gratitude journals and other similar practices. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. Great in theory, but in practice? Not always easy.
Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of prompts that I like to use when I’m staring down an empty page—or even when I’m just making a mental list and feel like I have nothing for which to be thankful.
- Search for beauty throughout your day, in big and small ways. A raindrop on a velvety leaf. The sunrise and sunset. Leaves dancing in the breeze.
- What small things bring you comfort or joy? A cup of tea. Chocolate. A warm bath.
- What moments bring you happiness, peace, or love?
- Who are the people who have supported you, helped you, or given you guidance? Teachers and healthcare workers are always a good place to start, but their contributions are especially meaningful now.
- How can you look at challenging experiences in your life as happening for you versus happening to you? How have they changed you? What can you be grateful about in those experiences? It is amazingly powerful when you can flip the script, so to speak.
And whoever said gratitude journals need to be written? Gratitude and visual arts make great bedfellows. When the words won’t come—or if you’re simply more of a visual person—don’t be afraid to doodle, collage, or compile. If nothing else works, get out your phone and compile visual mood boards. Do what works for you, and don't be afraid to experiment.
The important thing to remember is that this is an exercise with a very specific purpose. There are no expectations, and no one else has to see it. Remove the pressure to perform and you’ll be surprised by what you come up with!
Most importantly, have fun and embrace the grateful feelings about to come your way.