November 16, 2017

22 Meaningful ways to do “Gratitude.”

There’s something innately comforting about lists—they give us a sense of order and purpose.

List-lovers enjoy the ritual of making them. I don’t just do grocery lists; I’ve created budgets, a travel bucket list, and a list of things I want to accomplish. My favorite lists are the ones where I plot and plan grand adventures or catalog all the things I’d like to do during the year.

For the benefit of list-lovers everywhere, I offer you the List-Lover’s Ultimate Guide to the Season of Gratitude. This is my list of all the things you’ll want to squeeze in between now and the end of the month. Better get started!

>> Perform a random act of kindness each week.

>> Participate in a food drive for needy families in the community.

>> Sign up for a turkey trot or other race. Why? It’s a great way to burn off stress and get some exercise during a season that often focuses on food.

>> Host or attend a friendsgiving celebration.

>> Host or attend a Thanksgiving celebration.

>> Educate yourself with an article about indigenous people.

>> Pay a compliment to someone.

>> Start and end each day with an expression of gratitude.

>> Say thank you often and sincerely.

>> Have a bonfire and roast marshmallows.

>> Go on a hayride or take a walk in a scenic setting.

>> Go for a train ride to enjoy fall foliage.

>> Make a holiday craft. Pinterest is filled with great ideas for themed table decorations and napkin holders. (When making holiday crafts, pilgrim hats are fine, but Native headdresses are cultural appropriation and best avoided.)

>> Make a homemade bird and small animal feeder by coating a pine cone in peanut butter and rolling it in birdseed.

>> Donate a coat to a clothing drive.

>> Go for a mindful hike in the woods for a little seasonal forest bathing. Collect leaves and other nature items for a collage or simply take pictures of what you notice along the way.

>> Bake a treat for community service workers; for example, nurses, fire fighters, police officers, and/or postal workers. Or, send a letter and/or care package to a service member.

>> Make Thanksgiving Blessing Mix for the special people in your life.

>> Switch up Thanksgiving traditions with a progressive dinner party. Perhaps start out with appetizers and/or drinks in one home, move to another home for an entree and sides, and travel to the last for dessert. The theme can be traditional or not—choose the menu you love best!

>> Write handwritten thank you notes and put them in the mail for a friend or family member or someone else you appreciate.

>> Smile and make eye contact when saying thank you each day to servers, cashiers, and others in the community. Make sure they know you do appreciate their assistance and hard work.

>> Plan or participate in a fundraising or donation activity for a charity. Even if all you can afford to do is spread the word, it matters.

When November rolls around, many of us are caught between Halloween and the winter holidays.

Sometimes, Thanksgiving becomes a day simply to eat, visit with family, and watch football, and we forget just how important it is to practice an attitude of gratitude throughout the month. Of course, we can also apply this attitude to the rest of the year.

This list provides a few specific activities that we can do to enhance our gratitude practice during the month as well as maximize our enjoyment of the season with a few activities.

I’ve often heard it said that any new habit can take 30 days. November the perfect time to focus on new, healthy habits. As confirmed list-lovers who will dutifully check off a number of the above items during the month, we may experience some intimidation about making this list last 365 days.

So how do we turn November’s gratitude into an ongoing spiritual practice in an easy-to-remember way?

Self-Care Sunday:

On Sunday, we can express gratitude for ourselves. Maybe we appreciate our health or a particular aspect of our bodies or our character—and then do something to show our appreciation. Whether we choose a long bath, a nap, or some other self-care ritual, it’s important that we set aside time for self-care and appreciation.

Motivational Monday:

Who are the people that inspire us? Who do we admire and appreciate? On Motivational Monday, we can be appreciative of others and also find a way to encourage someone else. Perhaps compliment a friend or stranger, send an encouraging message, or write a handwritten letter. It’s important that we recognize others who have helped us and look for ways to be that person to someone else.

Truth Bomb Tuesday:

This doesn’t seem like a spiritual practice, but it is. Being grateful for our own truths—about ourselves and our lives—helps us become more comfortable with speaking our truth to others. This may look like enforcing a boundary or raising a red flag for a friend.

Wellness Wednesday:

This can be a time to focus on our health—mental, physical, and emotional—as well as the health of others. It’s a day to focus on being mindful, on our bliss, and on following our dreams. This is about holistic wellness. Are we on the path we need to be? Are we putting out into the universe the kind of energy we want to get back? Are we living the life that we want to be living? When we focus on wellness as a whole, we can be grateful for what we have and also find ways of transforming our lives into the ones we desire.

Thankful Thursday:

This can be a catch-all day for gratitude—for our friends, our pets, Earth. For the people we love and the things we enjoy. This is the time to celebrate books and chocolate cake and memes that make us laugh. Our gratitude can be attached to a random act of kindness, but it can also simply be something we express through our joy.

Freedom Friday:

We can appreciate all of the freedoms we hold and those who helped us get it. This is also a great time to get involved in community, state, or national governments by contacting representatives and encouraging them to continue to protect our freedoms. We can make sure that our gratitude for our own freedoms also extends to wanting the same for others abroad and doing whatever we can to help those efforts as well.

Service Saturday:

We can express gratitude for the people in our lives who help us in some way that we often take for granted, and then we can go a step forward to either do a random act of kindness for these people, or for anyone.

A simple, clear format can make any practice less daunting. Transforming the thankful mindset of Thanksgiving into a year-round gratitude practice that is organized and actionable is a great way to enrich our own lives while inspiring and encouraging others.

May it be of benefit and make the world a bit happier than it was before!


Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Alexa Mazzarello/Unsplash 
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis

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