It’s no secret that Thanksgiving is a day to think about what you’re grateful for in your life. However, Thanksgiving is not the only day that I do this. In fact, I approach this gratitude business very seriously.
I’ve woven a whole gratitude-harvesting daily mechanism into my life. This has been going on now for about two years, and it’s made a significant improvement in my optimism and contentedness.
Every day, when I plan my day, I write down three things I’m genuinely grateful for in my daily planner. For example, this morning I logged the following:
- My wife.
- My co-author Dave Maxfield.
- Indian buffets (and naan bread…mmmm….naan bread…).
I usually end up picking a major family relationship in my life. I also frequently pick people I work with that make my work-life special or very rewarding. However, I also like to think about things that make life more enjoyable and easier. The kind of things we take for granted, such as:
- Being able to travel across the country in five hours.
- Air conditioning.
Kinda funny, but kinda not at the same time. Travel back in time three or four generations and you don’t have any of those things.
The brain scientists say your mind cannot simultaneously process gratitude and anger. Therefore, by focusing on gratitude, you’re unable to to ruminate and think ill of others or the world. For this reason, any happiness consultant, regimen, or self-help book worth their salt will advise keeping a gratitude diary.
My wife and I attempted to incorporate the gratitude drill into our family dinners. We made it a game: Everyone has to go around the table, and each say our three things. This lasted about two weeks and we ran out of steam, but the gratitude game serves as a good impromptu activity that we sometimes fall back on when any of us are feeling particularly grumpy or down for any reason.
Thanksgiving, then, is kind of an extra special day for me. Since gratitude is such a cornerstone of my life and thought-process, it’s like a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for my habit. The entire country takes a day off and celebrates the sacred power of the simple but profound act of giving thanks.