Thanksgiving Every Day With DTH

Last week, most of us gathered with friends and family around a meal to give thanks for our blessings. And those who couldn't be with loved ones were likely still part of the holiday tradition by reflecting on the good things in their lives.

For one day on the calendar, and possibly a few days leading up to the third Thursday in November, it is expected and celebrated that we list the items for which we are grateful.

Then Black Friday arrives, and our tradition changes overnight (or in some cases, that very evening) and our gratitude lists are buried under mounds of shopping bags.

I know I'm not the first to point out this discrepancy in our quickly shifting holiday values, but I'm not here to judge those looking for bargains and buying gifts for others. Instead, I offer a way to maintain the spirit of Thanksgiving year round, minus the turkey dinner.

For the last several years I have used a gratitude practice. I had known long before this of the value and researched benefits of writing down things that make you thankful, but I struggled with the implementation, as I tried to find the avenue that worked best for me.

Then one day I saw a friend recording her thankful list in a small daily planner. Being a calendar-driven and highly organized woman, this method appealed to me immediately. I bought an inspirational planner the next day (shopping for it was half the fun!) and began writing three items each day for which I was thankful. I used my own custom shorthand for the little squares on the page, and this had the added benefit of cutting down on the time commitment. Before long, I had a full month of gratitude and the routine had become a habit.

I've since graduated to a planner app on my phone. Each night before I go to bed, I devote five to ten minutes to reflect on my day. First, I write about a Doorway that I saw. Next, I list three to five things for which I am thankful. Lastly, I record three to five prayers for myself, family, friends, community, or the world.

I call it DTH.

Here's an example from this week:

  • Doorway: the love of receiving a handmade wool sweater from a dear friend
  • Thankful: Janet's friendship; a washer and dryer for laundry; eating yummy food at home (noodles, mushrooms, tomatoes, ravioli, sauce, oranges, and pickles); Riley's first bath went well 
  • Help: peace and pain relief for Aly; comfort and guidance for Kara and Aaron; fulfilling meals tomorrow (Thanksgiving) for those who don't have traditional gatherings; success for Lois's community meal; shelter and safety for refugees

I am thankful that Riley's first bath wasn't too torturous!

Of course your gratitude practice doesn't have to look anything like mine, but it should fit your personality and habits so it's easy to keep up. Once you've established a pattern, you'll likely recognize what researchers have said all along - that grateful people are healthier people, and that's a beautiful thing!

For what three things are you thankful today? 

Reflect, write, repeat.


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