This time of year we are bombarded with messages about gratitude. Thanksgiving reminds us to literally “give thanks” for the blessings we enjoy. But I wonder how many of us really “dig in” and go beyond a quick list of people, possessions and experiences we have in our lives.
How much more grateful would you feel if you went deeper into your list? Here’s an exercise to try:
I give thanks to ____________ for _____________.
Because of this blessing, I have learned _______________________.
Because of this blessing I am able to _________________________.
Without this blessing, my life would be lacking ____________________.
These statements can spur creative and expansive thinking that will enrich your relationships with a deeper appreciation. You can modify the items to fit the situation, but let’s look at some examples to get you started.
I give thanks to my mom for teaching me how to cook. Because of this blessing I have learned that I can prepare delicious, nutritious meals for my family. Because of this blessing I am able to save money every month because we enjoy eating at home instead of spending money at restaurants. Without this blessing, my life would be lacking the satisfaction of sitting down with my family for quality time almost every day.
I give thanks to God for healing my body after the accident. Because of this blessing I have learned to take good care of my health and to allow others to help me sometimes. Because of this blessing I am able to be more sensitive to others who have physical problems and know how to help more effectively. Without this blessing I would be lacking the empathy that has enriched my relationships today.
This exercise can be practiced simply in your mind, as you think, pray and meditate on your blessings. It can also be written in a journal or in a letter to the person who has blessed you. Think of how meaningful it would be for someone to receive a message from you detailing the reasons you are grateful to them!
One other way to exercise digging in is to talk about it while you are digging in – to Thanksgiving dinner! Each person can take turns verbally appreciating something or someone. It is easy to say, “I’m thankful to my dad for all he does for me.” But how much more rewarding would it be for Dad to hear, “I’m thankful for my dad for teaching me to fix things. Because of him, I have learned to do my own car repairs and I am able to keep my old car running while I save up for my dream car. Without the blessing of my dad teaching me mechanics, I would be feeling helpless and dependent on others when something goes wrong.”
This kind of depth will spark creative conversation and fill your dinner hour with positive thoughts.
This is just one idea for focusing on thankfulness this year. In the comments below, please add your own ideas. We want to hear them!
We are thankful for our readers and wish you a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.