American Thanksgiving has just passed and marks the beginning of the holiday season. This is an exciting time for many people as they prepare to entertain their families and friends, purchase gifts for their children, decorate their homes and get caught up in the magic of the season.
It can also be a difficult time for others who are in financial difficulty, in strained relationships, are estranged from their families or are just plain lonely. This is especially true this year, which has been tumultuous for many with the pandemic, economic uncertainty and the racial tensions that have been brought to light this year. It is easy to forget that the holiday season is not a joyous time for everyone.
Regardless of what the holidays mean to you there is one aspect of this time of year that applies to everyone despite their circumstances. This aspect is that of gratitude. Above all the holidays are a time of gratitude. Why is this?
It is usually towards the end of the year that people look back on the previous 11 to 12 months to take stock of what the prior year has brought them. Have they achieved their goals, have they strengthened their relationships, have they improved their finances, have they developed better health habits, have they become more empathic, more charitable and and contributed positively to society?
As you look back on the prior year you may find that you have achieved some of what you set out to accomplish but not everything that you desired. This is natural as there are only so many hours in the day and there are an incredible number of things vying for our attention at any given time.
Despite how difficult this past year has been for you, you must close out the year with gratitude. The reason for this is that no matter what your situation is, you can always find something to be grateful for. Think about it. If you have a roof over your head, a warm bed to sleep in at night and can put food on your table every day then you are better off than the majority of the people on the planet.
This puts what you think your troubles are into perspective because the majority of people in the world struggle to meet their basic needs. This is the importance of gratitude because it puts your life situation into a greater perspective. You start to see how blessed you truly are regardless of whatever lack you perceive in your life.
When you are able to count every blessing that you have been given you open up a space inside of you which makes you more receptive to the abundance that the universe has to offer you. You start living your life more synchronistically. The right people appear in your life out of nowhere, you find what you need to stay on task at home and at work and you experience greater joy and flow on a more regular basis.
Expressing gratitude has numerous benefits which include greater happiness, more inner peace, reducing anxiety and depression, decreasing chronic pain, increased energy, stronger relationships, better sleep and a more positive outlook on life.
The way I practice gratitude is to keep a journal in which, at the end of the day, I write down three things that I am grateful for that day. I then deeply reflect on what I am grateful for, which helps me to end my day on a positive note and set the tone for the following day. This is a practice which I highly encourage everyone to do on a daily basis because it is a simple way to move the needle on your personal growth and development.
So no matter how you will be spending the holidays, whether it is surrounded with family and friends or more in solitude, use this time to reaffirm what you are truly grateful for in your life. No matter what your situation you can find many things to be grateful for. Keep a gratitude journal and reflect on it daily and your life will transform in the process.
Dr. Nauman Naeem