In a short time, we will be gathering around our families and loved ones, reflecting on the things for that which we are thankful. We'll be cherishing the gifts, blessings and happiness that may have come our way this year, paving the way for the holiday season.
But what if you're not feeling quite so thankful this year? For many people, finding reasons to be grateful for the good in life may not be so easy, especially if there has been a lot of bad this year.
Perhaps you have gone through a recent death in the family, or maybe you have been struggling to make ends meet. You may be feeling, at least right now, that there's no time or cause for such a happy event.
Even in the toughest of times, however, I believe that almost everyone has a reason to be thankful on Thanksgiving. For most people, it's simply a matter of changing your perspective a little.
1. Be thankful anyway.
Our ability to control our attitudes and perspectives is extremely underrated. We have the power, nay willpower, to choose gratitude over pessimism.
Of course, this won't solve all of your problems, but it's a great place to start. Start searching for the good to be thankful for and write it down. You may be surprised by what comes to mind. Before the big day comes, read that list consistently and remind yourself of what you're specifically thankful for.
2. Let go of the hurt.
Many people find it hard to be thankful when their family is around. Past grudges and struggles can create a cloud over the holiday, preventing you from focusing on what's really important (aside from the great meal you're about to eat).
If you really want to take on a spirit of thankfulness this year, you need to forgive the people that have hurt you, especially if they will be present this year. Don't miss out on this opportunity to improve the relationship and move forward. Otherwise, it will be a lot harder forgive this person next year, or the year after that.
For some, these people won't be around during Thanksgiving, but they will still be plaguing you during the holiday. Do what it takes to reach out and repair the relationship that is hurting, even if they don't want to hear from you.
During difficult times, it's natural for us to start focusing too much on our own worlds, forgetting that there are people who are hurting more than us. Some of these people may just be a few blocks away.
Find a way this year to help someone in need. During your tough times, you've probably wished that someone would come and comfort you. Well, now is your chance to start the cycle of goodwill and be that comfort for someone else.
There are many ways to volunteer, as well. You can serve at a soup kitchen, donate extra food, or even invite someone to your Thanksgiving meal who has nowhere else to go. The point is to find ways of giving this year, rather than reflecting on what you haven't received.
4. Make a Thanksgiving Resolution.
Why does New Year's get all of the fun? We typically start regretting the large meals and lethargic lifestyle of the holidays after the fact, but they rarely stick.
Consider making an effort before the holidays to start exercising and eating right throughout the holidays. Improving your physical habits will have a positive effect on your mood, and it's definitely another thing to be thankful for.
Psychologically, it's wise to get out of the house often and partake in activities that involve something besides watching television or playing with your phone. Experience the holiday from a new (or old) perspective by going to hayrides, apple orchards or corn mazes.
This is also a great strategy if you have children and want to instill these experiences for them. In fact, many of the steps on this list are essential for teaching children how to appreciate Thanksgiving and the holidays that follow.
5. Start looking ahead.
After you've reflected on the past year and have given thanks for the blessings in your life, begin looking forward to what's in store for next year. Making goals and plans for the future is a great way to channel your gratitude into action, and it paves the way for an even more thankful Thanksgiving next year.