Usually, we spend the time before Christmas under a lot of stress, running around town trying to find the perfect gifts and finishing our last assignments before heading off into the well-deserved holidays. However, being all busy, we sometimes forget what this time or life, in general, is about. It´s not the presents, the pay rise we are expecting or the luxury holiday we have booked for New Year´s Eve that define our contentment. Sure, there is nothing wrong or bad about treating yourself, and money is indeed something that can make you happy. Or at least more relaxed. But it is still the non-material things that matter. If you learn how to be thankful, you will realise that your life is richer and nicer than you think.
How to be thankful is not the cliché of the year
We know what you think right now. This talk about being thankful is nothing new, and everybody has been thinking about it repeatedly for years, especially around Christmas. That might be true. But still, it is essential to remind ourselves that we can try to be thankful on a daily basis. We are not telling you, “Cherish what you are given; there are people in the world who have way less than you!” because that would be a cliché and also sort of moralizing. Here is not about realizing that you might be more privileged than others; instead, we want you to think about what matters irrespective of anybody else because, in the end, comparing yourself – for better or worse – won´t get you anywhere.
You don’t need a life crisis to start to be thankful
Often, we change the way we see life when something horrible happens. For example, a disease, death, or financial and social struggles might make us realize, “Hey, life is short; let´s be thankful and change the way of seeing certain things”. Don´t get us wrong, it´s great when circumstances like that set somebody thinking and make them live life to the fullest, be grateful and value health, the people in their lives and all the good things happening day by day. But why wait for something to happen before starting to worship all of that? What about starting now? No reason, bad incidents, and near-death experiences are needed to make you shine with gratitude. So, how can you be thankful starting today?
1- Live more consciously
Most of the time, you don´t even have to be deliberately thankful. Just try to be a little more conscious and mindful throughout your daily life. Don’t take things for granted. When you wake up, say thanks for being alive, having a job and a family. Think a minute about the day ahead of you, and promise to offer your difficulties and troubles as a sacrifice for the good of others. This practice is a sort of prayer that creates a significant connection between you, everyone and everything around you. Doing that, instead of complaining about the stones in the way, you will start seeing them as an opportunity to grow and help others with your example of optimism.
Being conscious of all the miracles involved in being alive and interacting with others is a source of contentment and peace.
2- Appreciate the small things
This one is actually a no-brainer, but still something that we tend to forget from time to time. All our lives we are chasing the big things, the big love, the big money or that one big adventure. Along the way, there are some things though that make this whole process only memorable. So, concentrate on these small moments that are happening along the way up to your big goal or dream because without them, life would be pretty empty. Take a day off from work to have fun with your kids. Invite friends to come over to celebrate your friendship anniversary. Organise a trip to see the most amazing sunset. Call an old friend to say hello. Drink a glass of water as if it was a nectar of the gods. As you can see, the list of small things to be thankful for is big.
3- Stop the me-me-me attitude
Okay, at this point, we have to hark back to the “there are people in the world that have way less”. Charitable work is something that automatically makes you more thankful for your own life. When you are giving your time and attention to help others, you put your necessities in a different perspective, in a low priority. This moment when your ego and your problems become small and not so important is when you can experience real contentment and peace.
So, this Christmas and New Year’s Eve, try to be thankful for the food on your table, the presents under the tree, the loud kids around, the old jokes that your father tells every year and the drunk uncle Harry.
And thanks for reading this article 🙂