How much time do you put aside to give thanks on Thanksgiving?

When you get past the turkey and stuffing and pie, Thanksgiving is all about gratitude. When you take a moment give thanks for the good things in your life, you’ll be surprised how that makes you feel. Even when things seem sad and nothing seems to be going your way, the act of looking around for things to be thankful for makes everything seem brighter.

I have a friend who writes out ten things she’s grateful for each day. “It helps me remember what’s important,” she told me. She texts her list to friends, and they text their lists to her. Her list isn’t complicated. She’s grateful for her home, for her cats, her friends, the fact that her car starts up every morning – even in the snow. Simple, everyday things that make all the difference.

“When I look at that list, it reminds me to be happy,” she says. “And my friends’ lists inspire me too.”

Some people keep gratitude journals and write out their lists every day. Whatever method you use, a gratitude list can be an uplifting way to start or end each day. And sharing it with a friend makes it even better. If you want to have a bigger impact, how about putting a gratitude list out on social media and challenge your internet friends to do the same. What a great thing to look forward to reading!

Another great way to remember to be grateful is to tell another person how much they mean to you. Moms get cards on Mother’s Day, but how about sending a card on a regular Tuesday? Or maybe just make a call to say, “Mom, I appreciate you.”

If you’ve lost your Mom, take a moment to do an activity you used to share together, or call someone who loved her too and take some time to talk about your happy memories. Be grateful for the love that you experienced when she was alive, and say a prayer of thanks to her for watching over you from Heaven.

If you have children in your life, help them learn to be grateful too. You’re never too young to appreciate what you have. A client told me she was looking for a way to help her young children cope with losing their father to cancer. “We all needed something positive in our lives. I admit that I needed it as much as they did. We started making a gratitude list for every letter of the alphabet. At the end, we were even grateful for x-rays and zebras. It made us laugh and really turned things around.”

When you’re mourning the loss of a loved one, it can seem almost impossible to find things to be grateful for. Thanksgiving Day can be especially hard because it is a day when extended family gathers together. If you start feeling sad, remind yourself that your grief is a reflection of your love, and love is always a blessing. That’s a good place to start.

When there is an empty chair at the Thanksgiving table, sharing happy memories of your loved one can help ease the pain of loss. Set out their favorite holiday dish, their favorite dessert, and have everyone share it in their memory. You know they are around you, happy to be with you, celebrating your joys with you. Find a way to connect and invite those beloved souls in heaven to be part of your special day.

Gratitude can be the key to overcoming loss and turning tough things around for the better. On Thanksgiving, and every day, remember to ask yourself the question, “What are you grateful for today?”

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