The Greatest Gift to Give and Recieve: Gratitude

Last week nine seven-year-olds gathered in my living room, each carrying their favorite Thanksgiving book. The theme of this second-grade book club was a topic I think about often, gratitude.

Although the girls, including my own daughter, had a day off school, they were ready to discuss their books. I took the opportunity to start a discussion about what each girl is thankful for this year.

Imagine my surprise when I received a text message the next day from one of the girl’s mothers.

This mom had walked into the kitchen with disbelief, her seven-year-old daughter was doing the dishes. Her daughter looked up at her mom with a big smile on her face and said “I did the dishes without anyone asking me, Mommy!”

This made my day.

“She said she wanted me to know she is grateful for everything I do for her – and mentioned getting the idea from book club,” my friend told me.

Admittedly, it was thrilling to learn my mini-lecture on gratitude resonated with one of the girls.

I couldn’t help but wonder, are the adults I know practicing gratitude regularly?

Appreciation in the time of a pandemic

This is the time of year when families and friends share all the things they’re thankful for. And I’m glad that gratitude has a spot at the table. This is a lifestyle choice that is valuable now more than ever before.

Gratitude has kept me pushing forward through worries about health, business, family, friends, my community, and the world at large. When I struggle to maintain a growth mindset or use the great pause wisely, I center myself with gratitude.

It’s not easy to shift your mindset in this direction when we are faced with a global pandemic, civil unrest, economic instability, and the list goes on. Practicing gratitude does not mean ignoring challenges, grief, or struggles.

It is a habit that can start small and grow into a calming presence that guides you through the bad and the good times. Here are three ways to practice gratitude in your life.

One: Rise and shine

Before you check your email, texts, brush your teeth or hop in the shower, try this.

Shut your eyes and take one moment to say thanks for something in your life. Anything as small as your warm sheets, or for your ability to simply wake up and have the day await.

I start every morning with this small habit. It begins my day with a positive, thankful mindset. It’s a simple behavior that can have a tremendous impact on your life. You can start tomorrow morning. Put a daily event on your calendar or download one of my favorite apps – stoic, I am, or Morning!

Two: An annual tradition

How many times have you heard a friend or family member groan when their birthday arrives? It’s common to be a little glum about another year rolling by.

There’s another way to think about your birthday, filled with appreciation and thankfulness.

Mel Robbins, one of my favorite inspirational authors and speakers, shared this staggering statistic at her TedTalk: “The odds of you being born at the moment in time you were born, to the parents you were born to, with the DNA structure that you have, is one in four hundred trillion!”

Reframe the way you think about this annual event. It is a miracle that you, with your characteristics, traits, personality, and uniqueness are here.

Here’s another way to think about your birthday. Instead of “I have to commemorate another birthday,” tell yourself, “I get to celebrate another year on this earth.”

Three: Pay it forward

Here’s another approach.

Instead of turning inward, build gratitude by helping others in need. There are so many ways to give: volunteer with kids learning to read, mentor young professionals, organize a food drive, or write a letter to a soldier.

The most generous people I know are the ones who live a gratitude-centric life. This holiday season, try giving the gift of your time. Afterward, check-in with yourself. How do you feel?

Day-by-day

An essay on gratitude is not my typical content, but I am filled with appreciation this holiday season more than ever. I am immensely grateful for each day I have with my daughter, family, friends, Talentfoot team, and the clients and candidates we have the privilege and opportunity to serve.

If you can, pause and reflect on what you’re grateful for this year. Happy Thanksgiving.