Thanksgiving Should Not Be Only Once a Year
Six ways to feel gratitude every day. Try them; they really work!
Jews are obsessed with giving thanks. We say blessings for everything as a way to express our gratitude. Like any habit, gratitude only works if we persist in making it a daily part of our lives. Here are six gratitude exercises we can practice each day to inculcate this crucial habit into our lives.
1. Focus on the moments. Too often we focus on the past or worry about the future and don’t notice the moment we are being given right now. Life is really only happening in the present; don’t miss out on seeing the precious beauty and miracles that are right in front of you.
Try this: first thing in the morning or before you go to sleep at night, close your eyes and think of three moments in your life that you can feel deeply grateful for if you wanted to. They can be recent moments or moments that you haven’t thought of in a long time. See what you saw in that moment. Try to smell what you smelled. Feel what you felt. Reconnect to these moments and feel the gratitude for the gifts that they brought into your life.
2. Think of the people you are grateful for. We are so busy with our work and to-do lists that we frequently overlook the gift of the people who we love. It is all too easy to feel distant from the strength and depth of the love of our families because we are so used to their presence in our lives. Every day take a moment to think of the gift of the people in your life – your spouse, friends, parents, children, siblings, colleagues. Cherish that connection and think about how it nurtures and supports you.
3. Remember a time you experienced Divine providence in your life. We can all think of times of Divine providence when we felt God winking at us. Maybe you unexpectedly met someone who is now an important part of your life. Maybe it was a moment that led to a new job or a hobby that you love. Focus on one of those times and feel a deep sense of gratitude for that Divinely orchestrated moment that was created just for you.
4. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down the simple, little things that you can be grateful for each day. A hot cup of coffee. A beautiful sunrise. A child’s smile. Jot down at least three things each day that you appreciate.
5. Write gratitude letters. Compose a letter or email at least one a month to someone who has helped you or inspired you. Thank them for the blessing that they brought into your life. It is even better if you send the letter but even just writing it can concretize the sense of gratitude that you have for that person’s contribution to your life.
6. Appreciate your health. Take a moment each day to thank God for the gift of your body and each of your senses. Your sight, your hearing, your ability to speak and walk and smell are all priceless gifts. Don’t take them for granted. Cherish them.
The Hebrew word for gratitude is hakarat hatov which means recognizing the goodness in your life. Search for the gifts and you will find them everywhere.