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An Exercise In Gratefulness

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Forget-me-not flowers.
Forget-me-not flowers.

This time of year gratefulness is foremost on our minds.  The Wall Street Journal also ran an article listing the scientific benefits of being grateful and strategies to teaching thankfulness to our children.  Some of us have little traditions that go along with Thanksgiving such as: going around the table before dinner and stating one thing you’re thankful for, using a thankfulness journal or jar to hold all our gratitudes, or donating food to others in need.  Usually our gratefulness reaches outward to the friends and family we have, acknowledging what others have done for us, and thanking God for our many material blessings.

Here is another idea.  Can you think of one person you have known your entire life?  Who has been with you in bad times and good?  Who has gotten you to where you are now?  Everyone has someone… is YOU!!  Have you ever considered stopping and thanking yourself for getting you this far?  Does the idea of doing that seem silly to you?  If so, why?  So often we are ready and willing to give others a pat on the back, speak kind words to thank someone for what they have done for us, or offer a gift of thanks to show our appreciation.  How would a generous friend feel if you never showed your appreciation?  What message would you be sending that friend?  Then why does what we do for ourselves seem to go unnoticed, unrecognized and unappreciated?  What message are we sending ourselves by doing that?



Write down all the ways you take care of yourself, all the things you do to make your world a better place.  Here are some questions to ask yourself that may help get the ideas flowing.  Can you think of a time that you exercised when you didn’t want to?  How did that feel?  Can you think of a time when you taught yourself a new skill?  What was it and how did you do it?  What about a time you forgave yourself, or another person, when it seemed too hard to do so, yet you did it anyways?  How did that show you care about yourself?  Do you remember a time that you tackled a huge challenge and succeeded?  Did you start a business, raise money for a cause, or complete a marathon?  What qualities were necessary to do this?  Have you ever volunteered to help someone in need?  What motivated you to do that?  Are you a parent who has sacrificed time, money or energy for the needs of your child?  Do you realize how much that means and what a difference you are making?  What about a time when you left the security of a comfortable job and made a career change to something more fulfilling?  How does that honor your time and talents?  Have you taken care of an aging parent?  What were the struggles you overcame?  Do you take part in a hobby you love?  Are you a good friend?  How do all of these support the richness of your life?


Learning to appreciate ourselves is so important!  Don’t let it go unnoticed.  You have done the best you know how and you can accept the thanks you deserve.  Go ahead.  Treat yourself like you would a friend.  Pat yourself on the back.  Give yourself a hug.  Buy yourself a gift of appreciation, wrap it up and write yourself a nice letter telling you of all the ways you are appreciated.  You will be surprised to find how good it feels!  Be thankful for you!  That is the best gift you can give yourself this Thanksgiving.