Saturday, October 12, 2013

Thoughts of Thanksgiving ...

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.

W J Cameron

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  It's very early in the morning on what will be a full and happy Thanksgiving Saturday for me. I hope the same will be true for you. 

Focusing just a little too much on next weeks's Caring On Empty workshop, I forgot to book my ferry to the Island until last weekend when there were very few spots left to be had. As a result, I'm spending much of the day here in Vancouver rather than having arrived in Nanaimo last night as I normally would. The silver lining in all this is that I can make it to the last Farmers's Market of the season and stock up on bulk carrots and apples for the winter. Both these trips - to the Island and to the Farmers Market - will be gifts to write in my gratitude journal tonight.

I've been thinking about gratitude this week and the positive difference gratitude journalling has made to my general attitude about life. As my thoughts spiralled around, I realized that in strange way, gratitude has become about me. I recognized that my first thought, when I think about gratitude, is to think about the benefits that being grateful has had in my life. It's a subtle shift that I hadn't realized had taken place.

It wasn't until I stumbled across WJ Cameron's notion that, thanksgiving is action, that I realized that my focus had become a little unbalanced. Gratitude is about other people too. (As obvious as that sounds!)

Then, yesterday, in one of those wonderful synchronicities that can drop into one's life, I received an email from Alisdair Smith, a Vancouver-based life coach, facilitator and business chaplain. In it, he wrote about the difference it can make when we remember to say thank you to others (not just write about our gratitude in our journals at night). Alisdair was speaking in a business sense, citing an article in Forbes magazine about employee disengagement,  but the same thing applies in our individual lives. Sometimes, it is easy to get so caught up in the busyness and demands of our personal and professional caring-giving that we become neglectful in noticing others' gifts to us and actively saying thank you.

So, if thanksgiving is an action, I thought, who have I thanked recently (outside the normal politeness and pleasantries of everyday life)? When have I last been intentional about writing a note of gratitude or phoning to say how much I appreciate a person or their actions?  It hasn't happened as frequently as I would have liked.

What about you? Do you regularly thank the people you work with, the helpers who come to your home to support your caregiving, the man with the cheery encouraging smile who takes your parking ticket every day? Perhaps this can be a challenge for all of us this Thanksgiving weekend. Can we take a moment to write a note of thanks to someone we might not usually acknowledge in this way or stop to look intentionally into the eyes of a loved one and thank them for all they mean to us? 

I, for one, plan to do just that - and also to say, now, how very grateful I am for you, my readers. Thank you for reading and for your many emails of reply. Some of them I cut out and paste in my gratitude journal. Your thanks have make a difference in my life. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!


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