With Thanksgiving less than one week away, your social media newsfeeds are probably blowing up with #grateful and #thankful and #blessed and photos of all the lovely things that are going right in the lives of those you follow. At least I hope that’s what you are seeing when you aimlessly scroll!
What is it about this season of the year that allows us to be so outwardly public about our gratitude? More importantly, what is it about ALL THE OTHER times of the year that prevent us from being so expressive of our thanks?
All the things mentality
The obvious answer is that the thanksgiving vibe is only in view one month of the year. But I believe there are some underlying barriers that counteract our ability to be thankful year-round. These are rooted in societal pressures to always want more, constantly do it all, and never stop hustling. While it’s true that “all the things” is a great mindset to have when building a business and reaching for big goals, I wonder if it is the right mindset to have in raising our children.
The big question here is: Does your desire to want the best for yourself and your family get in the way of your family being grateful?
The answer… I have NO FREAKING CLUE. But I do know that I want to raise a little boy who is a grateful go-getter, a thankful thinker, and an appreciative adventurer. Are you with me?
Let’s commit to continuing the season of gratitude beyond next Thursday, into the holiday season, and spreading it into 2019. Let’s make thankfulness a lifestyle, not a one month challenge. Let’s start with these three things that can be implemented today to keep the vibe alive. Let’s STAY GRATEFUL!
1: Start the day with a thankful heart
I know it sounds cheesy, but if you think about it, the way you start your day determines the outlook for the next 16+ hours. If you start frazzled, stressed, and anxious, you leave very little room in your mind and heart to find the positive.
Instead, when your feet hit the floor in the morning, say two or three words/phrases/sentences that included a tiny hint of gratitude. My example from this morning: “warm coffee, a full night sleep, and a plan for dinner tonight”. I started my day by being thankful for what I have, rather than being focused on what I am missing. I woke up jazzed for the new coffee in my kitchen, the way I felt after getting good sleep and the fact that I have a plan for what the rest of my day looks like. I am grateful for the way my day is starting, and a little bit crazy for talking out loud to myself as I got out of bed. #embracethecrazy
You can start this habit with your kiddos and partner, too. When you are having breakfast or helping them get dressed for the day, ask them what they are excited about today!
2: Place your hand over your heart and take a breath
If you find yourself super overwhelmed at any point during the day (while sitting in traffic, while trying to negotiate with your toddler, while running around trying to figure out what to make for lunch), take a moment to pause and place your hand over your heart.
The small gesture can help to ground you and bring you back to the present moment. It may not take away the traffic or fill your fridge with fresh produce and prepped meals, but it will help to negate the panic and invite a bit of reflection. Taking a moment to breathe can help to slow your mind and remind you that it’s not all doom and gloom.
This is another one that can be SUPER helpful with kiddos, especially toddlers. When big emotions overtake little bodies, meltdowns are likely to result. If we can remind our little ones to take moment to pause, breathe and relax it can help to delay, minimize or even prevent a total come apart! The task of placing hand over heart can distract them, even briefly, and allow you to respond with calmness and reason. The best way to teach this is to model it for your children by doing it yourself in moments of stress!
3: Give to show your gratitude
One of the best ways to get you (and your family) out of the one-track-mind of “more is better” is to GIVE! This can look different from month to month and year to year, but the general premise will always be the same: Giving to others allows you to be thankful for what you have.
Giving can be a one-item donation to a food drive, taking a “we don’t need this any more” children’s toy to a neighbor down the street, or adopting the “one thing in. one thing out policy” where you give one item away for every new thing you purchase. Giving can also be donating a few hours a quarter at a local animal shelter, attending a community clean up day or offering to decorate the calendar at your little one’s pre-school every month.
No matter what giving looks like, do it. OFTEN! And get your family involved. You know that HUGE pile of board books that your kids no longer read? Someone else would be beyond thrilled to get those as a Christmas gift. You can be grateful for the memories with those books, thankful for the bedtime cuddles because of those books, and blessed that you have new books to replace those books. You can give to show your gratitude!
Gobble up the gratitude
There ya have it, folks. Nothing new. Nothing mind-blowing. But a quick reminder to slow it down and be thankful more often than just next week as you gobble down turkey and eat up #allthepies.
Photo via Mattheus Ferrero per Unsplash
Brittney Stefanic is a certified whole-family sleep consultant working with ages newborn through adult. She knows from personal experience that reaching big goals and living an abundant life can create a cycle of ungratefulness, but she knows that these tips work to reverse that trend. She is VERY thankful for sleep and the opportunity to support families who need less exhaustion and more solutions. As an educator, Brittney believes in the power of teaching and loves supporting families in meeting their sleep goals through her customized sleep plans. You can follow her on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook @brittneystefanicsleep for access to her free sleep tips and tricks and opportunities for sleep virtual Q&A sessions.