Thanksgiving season conjures all the emojis at once: the grounded contentment that comes with autumnal reflection, but also sometimes anxiety about impending family gatherings. No matter how (or whether) you celebrate the tradition as it currently unfolds in America, there are ways you can take ownership of your emotional outlook this month by expressing gratitude throughout the season, on your terms.
We asked some of our frequent Wanderlust faculty to suggest the ways in which they stop, drop, and give thanks.
“Back in the old days, one of my favorite ways to show someone how much they meant to me was to make them a mixed tape complete with handmade liner notes! Now sharing music is easier than ever, so when I want to communicate how grateful I am to have someone in my life, I make them a playlist of songs that remind me of them or that help convey all the ways and reasons I love them so. And you know you’re really special to me when I cook you a meal and play your playlist AT THE SAME TIME. That’s love, baby.”
“Thanksgiving is that seam in time: after the harvest has been brought and shared, and before the onset of deep winter. It’s the time to celebrate our light of our successes, mourn our losses and look into the growing shadow of autumn.
Reflect on what has been and take seriously the lessons of the past and be accountable, envision what lies ahead because winter is coming, and give gratitude in the present; gratitude to nature for her abundance, to the commitments and bonds of family and community, and to one’s own self conscience.”
“One way I express gratitude is asking someone how they are and REALLY listening to them when they talk. I remove my ego and show up to witness my loved one so they know they are seen and truly heard. I think the greatest gift we can give others is our interest in truly seeing them as they are and giving freely of our love without condition.
I always try to remember that how I express love and gratitude may not be the same way that someone likes to receive love and gratitude. So, I oftentimes ASK what someone needs and values from me so I can hear them and give it to them. For example, I have one dear friend who oftentimes needs lots of space. I have another who likes to be “checked in on” without promoting. If you give with ego in mind, you are oftentimes just serving yourself.”
“I express gratitude by looking someone in the eyes and saying, “I appreciate you… or I appreciate that you did such-and-such.” This is essential, especially in my close relationships, where we are so busy and in multitask-wear-a-1000-hats mode, and we often overlook the kind things we do for each other.
I also make it a practice to do this with everyone in my life, and it’s amazing when I slow down enough to absorb them, how many small kindnesses keep showing up.
p.s. I also bake delicious and healthy cakes as thank you gifts sometimes. A few slices of wholesome sweetness in my opinion grounds a thank you so deliciously.”
“I express gratitude by being of service. As a teacher, one of the questions I ask myself most when creating things for my community is, “How can I be of service?” This means zooming out from what my needs are and asking myself what I sense the collective would most benefit from. As I continue to check in with my heart, “Am I being of service?”
I find that I experience so much gratitude in the ability to serve and the connections and magic it generates in my own life, both personally and professionally.”
My wish for you is that you
soften your gaze until the aperture of your reality reveals some surprising beauty to your fresh eyes
or you take a cold bath with a furry sea otter
or you tell a bad joke to a stranger and let yourself laugh really loud.”
“Here are three very simple ways in which we can all do to cultivate more gratitude:
1) Each day, keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for. This can be done first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed. It can be as simple as food to eat, a bed to sleep in, or running water.
2) Make it a practice to tell a loved one something you appreciate about them every day. If you are feeling creative, you can write them a letter or postcard.
3) Think about something you have done well recently or something you like about yourself and write it down.”