Thursday, 26 November 2015

Thought: Giving Thanks

A delves deep and finds reasons to be thankful this festive season.

Thanksgiving looms. For me, this means looking forward to one of the best meals of the year (a happy tradition in my life now thanks to a very dear American friend) and reflecting on the past year and consciously giving thanks for the good things. This may sound trite, but as I begin to think, I realise this year, said good things are coming to mind readily and in abundance.

Rewind a year.

I have just quit a job that although started out well, in the end was a very unhealthy place to be, I was jobless and pretty hopeless in a city I had fallen completely out of love with. I was not feeling very thankful. Back then, any time I tried to be thankful, my brain would throw up a million reasons not to be.

A year on, after a well-needed time out, and a move (drastic times call for drastic measures and all that) and I am self-employed (some might say jobless) and living in a city, which although I have no extraordinary regard for, it is my home, and I'm hopeful.

You can't just conjure up thankfulness, and I've come to think it's a pretty good indicator for your well-being. Last year, I couldn't even be thankful for the great things I did have; amazing friends; a supportive family; a lovely flat; good health and a fine collection of footwear. This year, you can't stop me being thankful. So I begin to think if you're consistently not feeling thankful, and you're struggling to even name things to give thanks for, maybe there's some thinking to be done.

Perspective helps. Getting away, whether it's for a weekend, a week or a year, physically removing yourself from your life and pressing re-set really does give you perspective and helps you see the good things you've got going on. It may also show some bad things up for what they really are.

Comparison doesn't. A sure fire way to rob yourself of any sense of thankfulness is comparing yourself, your life, your job, your relationship, whatever it is, to someone else's. This just ends up either self-pity and jealousy, or smugness and condescension.

Practice helps. A bit like exercise, getting into good habits really helps. Practicing being thankful develops a stronger thankful muscle.

Self-flagellation doesn't. If you are feeling less than thankful, the worst thing to do is beat yourself up about not being thankful enough. Go easy on yourself, life is not always a bed of roses, and sometimes it really is difficult to discipline yourself to be thankful.

Starting small helps. Aim for the moon, by all means, but sometimes the only place to start is right in front of you. When the big stuff is difficult, be thankful for the cup of coffee you're holding, the lovely light of the changing seasons, all the great box sets available on Netflix...

I hope that whatever kind of year you've had, and whatever kind of year you're looking ahead to, that you find in your life things to be thankful for, things that bring you joy, things that stop you in your tracks and make you glad to be alive.

Happy holidays, everyone.

A x

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