Pumpkin pie, cornbread stuffing, mounds and mounds of mashed potatoes, oh boy do I love Thanksgiving. Not only are we given the green light to eat ourselves into a full-blown, guilt-free food coma, we are also given the opportunity to sit down in the presence of our friends, family, and loved ones to mull over all the extraordinary things in our lives and express our sincere thankfulness.
Growing up, we had a special Thanksgiving Day tradition in my family. Every year like clockwork, as soon as we finished our Thanksgiving feast, my grandmother would disappear into her hobby room and a few minutes later reappear holding a stack of paper and a box of markers. She would ask us to write down five things we were grateful for and then push us out the door for the Turkey Bowl.
The first Turkey Bowl started out with all of my cousins getting together for a friendly/not so friendly (I have been known to get just a tad bit competitive) game of football on the large grassy easement in my grandparent’s backyard. Sometimes we would play street hockey or basketball, and other times we would hold fierce skip-it and jump rope competitions. The point is, it didn’t matter what we did, what mattered was we were all together living in the moment, having the time of our lives.
My grandmother passed away four years ago, and as we were cleaning out her hobby room, we came across ten large shoe boxes filled with twenty plus years of gratitude lists from her nineteen grandchildren. I took mine and put them all in a journal so I could read them down the road.
Last Thanksgiving was particularly hard for me. I was going through a rough patch and was missing my grandmother. I began focusing on all the negative things happening in my life, rather than focusing on the positive. That is when I sat down, opened my journal, and took a trip down memory lane. As I read through years and years of my gratitude lists something strange happened. I found that I no longer was focused on the negative and I started to feel joy and happiness. It was then, and there I decided to adopt an “Attitude of Gratitude.”
Every Sunday over the past year, I take 5 minutes to myself and write down five things that I am grateful for or five wins I had that week. When I start to get overwhelmed in life, I open up my journal and read a random page. By doing this, I can refocus on what is important in life and erase any negative thoughts I might have.
Life moves so fast that it is sometimes hard to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what we have. Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Starting tomorrow and for the next year, I challenge you to take 5 minutes each week and write down five wins or five things you are grateful for and the next time life starts serving up lemons, take out that list and read through it. It does work, I promise you.