By Zadra Rose Ibañez
As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, especially THIS year, it might be helpful to think about different aspects of “Thanksgiving,” including being grateful, generous, and mindful.
Perhaps I’m noticing them more this year because of the environment we’re in, but I have seen several more influencers, webinars, podcasts, and posts about being happy that recommend being grateful, giving back, and reflecting on what’s important to us.
Coursera even offered, for free, a course on being happy called “The Science of Well-Being,” led by Yale Professor Laurie Santos.
One of my favorite speakers on mindset, Tiffany Peterson, offers a free four-week course each November, called Gratitude and Generosity. Peterson invites a different guest speaker each week to talk about what gratitude and generosity mean to them and how those two practices have shaped and improved their lives. The course is her way of giving back to the community each year and helps frame the end of year for listeners.
Peterson shares that the two “hold hands in her mind” and that it is difficult to find someone who is both happy and ungrateful. “The math just doesn’t add up.” She encourages us to practice daily habits of gratitude, including sending cards or texts to people in our lives to share our appreciation for them.
This idea of being generous, of giving back, can be especially practiced during the holiday season. Charitable organizations typically hold their annual fundraising events and donation drives during the last couple of months of the year and count on year-end donations to see them through the next fiscal year. In addition to the holiday gift giving and Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales, there is Giving Tuesday, a concept that reminds us to focus on helping others, rather than being solely focused on acquisition and purchases.
At our recent staff retreat, the team was asked to participate in a Thankful Exercise. Each member was asked to answer one of several prompts, including: “I’m thankful when I hear____________,” “I’m thankful for these living things ____________,” and, possibly the most mind-shifting, “I am thankful for these things I learned during COVID-19.” These would be great questions to ask on Thanksgiving, as we devote an entire day to being grateful.
2020 is quickly coming to a close. How we choose to end the year will directly impact how we begin 2021. Whether you do a favor for a friend, buy coffee for the stranger in line behind you, donate clothing or food to a shelter or animal hospital, or give cash to your favorite charity, being mindful of all the good we have experienced and paying it forward through generosity can only bring joy and peace.