Ways To Think About Gratitude This Thanksgiving
Every Thanksgiving marks nearly a year’s worth of life experiences and world events, and every year feels different, in good ways and bad. When we go through challenging periods in our lives, it can be hard not to bring a stressed or otherwise negative mindset to the holiday table. Yet there are ways to suspend or even dispel that negativity so that you can enjoy the feast with friends and loved ones more fully. After all, you’re about to create an important memory, and you want it to be a good one.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, finding things to be grateful for and taking the time to contemplate how much you appreciate them can be a powerful way to get through difficult times. It’s also an effective way to maintain your sense of joy and wonder throughout the holiday season, and few occasions set the scene for gratitude better than a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast with loved ones. Here are some ways to contemplate what you’re thankful for this season.
Start With Simple Categories
When you think about what you appreciate most in your life, you’ll notice that good things come in many categories. It can be fun and uplifting to make a list for each type. You may be surprised both at how many lists you have and which ones are the longest! Here are a few gratitude categories to consider:
Skills and abilities
You can find even more to be thankful for if you create subsets of lists: different kinds of people, things, places, etc. that you would feel lost without. There are many other ways to tap into sources of thankfulness as well, such as keeping a gratitude journal, considering past difficulties you’ve overcome, or counting how many things make you feel fortunate as you go through various routine experiences.
Share Thoughts of Gratitude With Others
Once you’ve realized how much you have to be glad about, you may find that your perspective on life has brightened considerably. A great way to make other people feel uplifted on Thanksgiving—or any day of the year—is to share your points of gratitude with them, especially those who are on your own “people” list. There are plenty of thoughtful ways to express gratitude to people you appreciate or want to inspire. Here are a few ideas to try:
Thank someone for a specific service. Once you’ve adopted an outlook of thankfulness, it becomes easy to notice the things other people do that make your day or life better—so tell them!
Return the favor. Sometimes words fail us in conveying our thanks, and sometimes the people we appreciate are individuals of few words. If that’s the case, consider skipping the words and doing something thoughtful or helpful for someone instead.
“Shout out” a person you’re thankful for. You can inspire positivity simply by telling someone’s friends, family, customers, classmates, or coworkers how much they’ve improved your experience or life. Shining a light on the skills and good character of other people can be a great way to thank them in both word and action.
Try a Thanksgiving gratitude game. Gratitude games can be great conversation starters and pre- or post-meal activities. Give each person a short list of thankfulness categories that have a spot or shape of color next to them. Have them write something they’re grateful for in each category. Next, take turns drawing colored items (candy, game tokens, trinkets, etc.) out of a container. Each player can then read aloud their gratitude item with the matching color. Pro tip: a little humor can go a long way!
Find Things To Be Grateful for With Surprise Lake Camp
Surprise Lake Camp is a nonprofit organization that provides a home away from home for generations of young people. We believe in the value of community and friendship. Our Jewish values and identity shape our connection to nature. We’re dedicated to helping young people unplug, grow, and develop values, confidence, and skills to last a lifetime, adding to SLC’s storied history as the nation’s longest-running Jewish sleepaway camp.
We also teach gratitude to our campers (we even have our very own gratitude game!) and work to ensure that they have plenty of things to feel thankful for each summer and all year long.
SLC is thankful for you! When you make a charitable gift to Surprise Lake Camp, you give children life-changing experiences. Partner with us to provide campers confidence, growth, friendships, and Jewish identity. Donate today!