This time of year, we hear many references to being thankful, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Although, I can’t really support the dark history that overshadows this holiday, I believe in taking advantage of every opportunity to highlight the importance of gratitude.

Unfortunately, the gratitude I typically hear around the table is pretty superficial and awkward. It’s like watching someone play the piano after a year’s break desperately pretending that they play regularly. If the discussion you hear is anything like what I hear, it goes a little like this… “I am thankful to have a roof over my head. I’m so glad I get to eat three meals a day. Do you realize how few people in the world get three meals a day??” Blah, blah, blah. It’s not that these things aren’t important. It is the lack of genuine gratitude and recognition of the little moments that make me cringe. Of course I am thankful for my home and for food! But, I am also thankful for fact that my husband made me laugh today, and that my cat was totally love-drunk on my lap, and that I cried over a client’s breakthrough this morning!

Instead of putting on the oh so boring pious mask this season, let’s set the standard a little higher this year. Let’s get raw and real. Instead of pushing our real lives away and stating broad generalities, let’s get specific and let’s get personal.

The other part that we miss so frequently is the “giving” part of our thanks. How often do we tell our loved ones why we are so thankful for them? How often do we describe the qualities of our loved ones that we admire and cherish? Do we take a moment to thank our employers for providing a friendly workplace, or our children’s teachers for creating a positive learning environment, or the cashier for always working so tirelessly? Do we hug our pet and whisper how thankful we are for their companionship? Appreciation means so much. Let this be a reminder to give it more often!

How can I make my “thanks” more meaningful?

  1. Send a card

Send a few thank you notes, through the mail or by hand, sharing what you appreciate about your friends and loved ones. This is a great opportunity to create an interaction with someone you have lost touch with or wish you had communicated with sooner. There is never a bad time for gratitude and appreciation.

  1. Write notes

Leave a little gratitude list under your hubby’s pillow, or maybe in your daughter’s lunch box. Hide notes of appreciation all around your house or workplace to share your feelings of thanks with those you see most frequently. So many of us get stuck in a rut in our long-term relationships and this is your chance to change that! Write out the things that have been taken for granted for a little too long.

  1. Speak up

This is an opportunity to create a new pattern. Ideally, gratitude should infiltrate our lives, all the time. Learn to look at your loved ones with gratitude-colored glasses. Speak your appreciation – every time you see it! Grab your friend and tell her how much she means to you and how much you appreciate her companionship. Kiss your husband and highlight one of his glowing character traits. Hold your child and share nothing but his positive behaviors that you are so proud of. Create a new routine of gratitude.

I’d love to hear what gratitude means to you! What new “thanks-giving” will you add into your holiday routine this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Jillian Landis is a Self-Care and Worthiness Coach at Evolve Personal Coaching, blogger, and writer for Nourish + Bloom. Jillian's passion is encouraging big hearted individuals to extend a little of their love to themselves, so they may serve this world at their greatest potential. Prior to coaching, Jillian served in the mental health profession for 10 years and has a vast knowledge of human behavior, which she utilizes to create effective change in the lives of her clients.

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