Welcome to November! By now, the #30daysofgratitude and similarly tagged posts are in full swing as we take time this month to acknowledge everything we have to be thankful for.
While I have no issue with any of the gratitude challenges the circulate social media, I’d like to propose a different type of challenge. Instead of (or in addition to) posting about or sharing a picture of something/someone you’re grateful for each day, seek opportunities to reach out and show gratitude. Make this a habit of your interactions 365 days a year.
Pick up a handful of thank you cards and send one whenever you feel particularly thankful for a person, experience, or service.
Take a few seconds to thank the person stocking shelves at the grocery store. (I did this the other day and I think I really caught her off guard. She responded to my thank you with a slightly taken aback, “Oh, thank you!”).
Make strong eye contact and smile as you thank someone for holding the door open for you and your kids.
Thank your husband throughout the week for those things he does regularly that may not get recognition.
Encourage your kids to say thanks to teachers, Sunday school volunteers, childcare providers, and anyone else they interact with.
Thank God throughout your day for the little things. The sunrise. The smile on your child’s face when he sees you in the morning. The embrace when you pick her up from preschool. The dinner your family enjoys together. The delight in your daughter’s eyes when you open the Mickey Mouse Prince and the Pauper book that she insists on reading every. single. night. Thank God out loud to deepen your feelings of gratitude.
The holidays can be a difficult time for many of us. Maybe we’ve lost loved ones and we long for one more Thanksgiving with them. Maybe a loved one is serving our country and can’t be home for the holidays. Maybe we’re feeling isolated because we ourselves can’t be home for the holidays.
Having a grateful heart can help remedy the feelings of sadness and loneliness we may feel this time of year. It also deepens our joy as we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christ’s birth.
Reach out and show gratitude today and every day. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how your heart—and your world—will be changed.