If you live in Canada, like myself, this past weekend was Thanksgiving weekend. There are so many fun traditions and things to celebrate and indulge in. I spent mine with my family and ate more turkey and pumpkin pie than I thought possible. It was so great.
I have a lot of half-finished blog post ideas floating around my head and my note books and I didn’t know what to share about this week – but since there is a general theme of thankfulness and gratitude going on right now I thought I would do a little update on the Gratitude Project and think about why it’s important to sustain the spirit of thanksgiving far past the family dinners and trips to the pumpkin patch.
Writing “Project Update” sounds much more formal that what this is, but I do want to share a few reflections of what it is like to write a thank you note a day (or try to and then realize you’ve forgotten for three days – nobody’s perfect guys and I’ve definitely missed a note here and there). The first thing is that, sending thank you notes fills your heart with love. It makes you remember little things and big things and old memories and reasons why you love people. It helps you connect with others and fosters relationships and reminds people that you love them. It is hard to be grumpy about your day when you sit down to thank someone for something.
Writing thank you notes out of the blue can feel a bit strange – I have started so many of my notes with “this is so random but…” . Saying thank you , especially for things that are general like a person’s friendship or support over years rather than a specific act, isn’t something I found myself doing very often before this project. However, building this practice into my life has been a great way to see the world and practice gratitude in different ways. Even though it might seem weird to write a thank you note for someone just “being” in your life , and you might feel like you’re living in Jimmy Fallon’s Thank You Note segment, I think you should embrace it and write them anyway.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about fighting for friendship and I think this is a great way to do it. The week of that post I wrote thank you notes to some of the friends that inspired it and thanked them for inspiring me, for being wonderful and named their qualities that I admired. It wasn’t your usual “thank you for doing this thing for me” note , it was more of an I appreciate you and am so thankful for your existence. But you know what, it felt so good to name those things. To tell those people how much they meant to me. I love celebrating people not just for the individual things they do for me but for the person they are and the way they light up my life on a daily basis.
So I want you to think about thank you notes from a new perspective today, and try writing one that is out of the ordinary. Maybe it starts with “this is so random but…” or maybe it’s thanking someone for being a generally wonderful person and the way they inspire you, or maybe you don’t write it to a person. My last type of thank you note I’ve experimented with is writing lists (because if you know me well you know I love lists) about all the things in a day I am thankful for. It can be a little prayer of thanksgiving or list a list in your journal or planner of all the things that you’re thankful for in a day – whatever floats your boat.
When we practice giving thanks everyday we see how many blessings we have in our lives. Things we take for grated: our friends and family; dance parties in the car; the beach; having a safe place to call home; bubble baths; sunshine; the smell of cilantro; community; ice coffee; health care and counsellors; scones; coffee shops; coral lipstick; a closet of clothes; feeling creative and inspired; people who are patient; Chihuahuas; sharing the things I love with people who I love; driving at night with the windows down and warm summer breezes blowing around you; people who encourage you.
There are so many things to be thankful for, I could list more (my friends often joke that I’m like Julie Andrews listing all of her favourite things in The Sound Of Music) but I’ll just say this – thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year but the spirit of gratitude it represents can be a part of how you live everyday if you’re intentional.
“I believe my life will see, the love I give, returned to me”
The quote in the header is a John Mayer lyric, the title of this blog is a reference to a John Mayer lyric and lately I’ve been quoting him in everyday conversations. I don’t know what’s up but lets just go with it…
The final reflection, and this seems self-serving but it’s honest, is that often when you tell people how much they matter to you they reciprocate. And not that you should give compliments or say you care about someone so that they will return the compliment, it’s also nice to hear. Sometimes you’ll get stuck in a flurry that becomes a compliment battle because you and your friend love each other so much no one can have the last word on how great you are. You should obviously not give compliments to receive them, but I’ve discovered from telling friends and loved ones they matter to me very deeply, is that I’ve found a deep sense of love sent back to me.