For many families, this is one of the most difficult Thanksgivings for some time. Loved ones are missing around the table. Health workers are stretched thin as hospitals are filling up. In many states, restrictions are preventing families from gathering. For some, that is a good thing because family is a hard thing. Anxiety is becoming a pandemic as well as COVID-19. People are fearful and depressed. We are Zoomed out. We long for some sense of normalcy of a pre-COVID world. When will it end? Peace is evasive. Hard to be thankful for much in 2020.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can create peace in your heart and the hearts of others around you this Thanksgiving.
1. Cultivate gratitude in yourself. It all begins with YOU! If you want peace, you need to get your peace together! A great starting point? Gratitude. Simply start your day, every day, with this simple exercise of filling in the blank. “ I am gratitude today for ________________.” I have journaled for over 40 years. I have 40 years of cultivating a heart of gratitude. What is the result of a heart of gratitude?
- Gratitude helps your relationships, all of them!
- Gratitude improves your physical health.
- Gratitude improves your mental health.
- Gratitude increases empathy and decreases anger.
- Gratitude helps you sleep better.
- Gratitude improves your self-esteem.
(based on Forbes article in 2014 by Amy Morin)
2. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude for family.
- Handwrite Thank You notes to family members, all of them, even the grouchy ones!
- Think of something very specific and unique to the family member and WHY you are grateful.
- For fun, include a simple gift: a gift card, tea bag, candy bar, etc. The gift should be something the person would enjoy and conveys your thoughtfulness.
- Tell them of your gratitude. What is better than a handwritten note with a small gift? Speaking words of gratitude directly to the person, face to face (or FaceTime to FaceTime in our COVID world).
In September, my wife lost her dad. She was so grateful she had planned to see her parents and the plane ticket was already purchased and time set aside. She was able to see her dad almost every day for the last week of his life in the hospital. She was grateful the health care workers allowed the family to gather around his bedside. For other loved ones during COVID, they died alone. Be grateful for every day with people you love. Let them know it. May your grateful heart of peace spill over to family creating peace for them as well.
3. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude for your community.
- During COVID, neighbors became friends. Younger neighbors shopped for older neighbors.
- Neighbors held virtual Happy Hours across the street from one another.
- Co-workers covered for each other when one was sick.
- People stayed home to keep others safe.
- In isolation, people longed for people. We wanted to feel human touch, we wanted to hear a human voice, we wanted to see a human face (not just virtually). We needed community. We are grateful for our tribes.
- We realized we matter to one another. As much as the media would tell us otherwise, there is far more that unites us than divides us.
I am grateful for community: my team, my neighbors, my House Church, my city, and for those who serve us all. These people most of all need to hear “Thank You”. Thank you for serving. Thank you for sacrificing. Thank you for caring for those whom you have never met. And for those whom we know, let them know our gratitude. Tell them. Often. Help them to never forget. May your grateful heart of peace pass peace to your community. And, when peace becomes viral, maybe, just maybe, we will begin living in a more peaceful world.