With thanksgiving just around the corner, plenty of us get caught up in the mundane and stressful minutiae of daily life that sometimes we tend to take for granted what actually makes life worth living. Others also get stuck in a negative mindset which makes gratefulness a challenge. This year we want to make the annual Thanksgiving reminder about the importance of gratitude.
Throughout the course of history, numerous public figures such as Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein have quoted words of wisdom stressing the value of being thankful. Plenty of the world’s major religions also include gratitude as an integral part of their worship and core values. In Christianity, God’s word is filled with many reminders of how powerful and vital a thankful heart is. Psalm 9:1 quotes “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” This is just one of the many verses found in the bible referring to the importance of being grateful.
In Islam, Muslims perform “Salah” (prayer) 5 times a day to express thanks to God. As we open the Quran, the first chapter starts with “Alhamdulillah” which generally translates as “all praise is for God.” In reality, the word “Alhamdulillah” signifies gratitude in our everyday lives.
In Judaism, followers have prayers for gratefulness; an essential part of their belief. Some foundations in the laws of the Torah can be found in the mitzvah (commandment) of honoring one´s parents and the Bikurim – bringing of the first fruits to the altar in the Beit HaMikdash; the temple built by King Solomon. Buddhists, meanwhile, believe that gratitude helps develop patience. Ksanti—patience or forbearance—is one of the six paramitas or Buddhist virtues to cultivate or achieve perfection.
Nowadays Thanksgiving has become more and more synonymous with things like Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the real essence of the holiday, which is being grateful, has taken a back seat. In fact, statistics shows that 20% of American adults rate gratitude as a constructive and useful emotion, compared to 50% of Europeans. Only 10% of Americans responded that they “regularly and often” experience the emotion of gratitude, as compared to 30% of Europeans. Source: (https://www.happierhuman.com/the-science-of-gratitude/)
As such, our mission for this Thanksgiving Season is to encourage you to participate in a 7-Day Gratitude Challenge. Here at Kitchen Life®, our goal will be to help you remember the importance of gratitude through a series of daily inspirational reminders.
Every day, we will invite you to take a pause and reflect about how people around you have contributed to make your year amazing. These reflections will greatly help cultivate gratefulness in your heart. Towards the end of the challenge, you will start to see significant changes in your attitude, in your outlook and in your life.
Day 1 Count Your Blessings
The simple phrase “Count Your Blessings” actually serves as a short reminder. So to kick-off the 1st day of this 7-Day Challenge, we encourage you to generate the feeling of appreciation by developing a grateful mind. From this day ‘til the end of the challenge, write down things you are grateful for. Simple things we tend to take for granted like having electricity at home, access to clean water, and of course, being alive are just some of the things you can write down to begin with. Remember that some of the things that we take for granted are a luxury to others. Continue to expand your list in the upcoming days by keeping a journal to record your thoughts during this challenge. Carefully watch and observe how your mindset and mood improves! Be blessed.
Day 2 Tag A Friend
Invite your friends to join you in this challenge. Involving others is a fun way of spreading positivity. It’s also a great way to affirm the things you have written down. Doing this with a friend gives more boost to your morale. Plus, it can give you and your friends an opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level. In fact, you can start telling as many friends as you can about this challenge as early as now. This will also serve as motivation to continue doing the challenge.
Day 3 Express Gratitude Daily!
Being vocal about your gratefulness adds more power and meaning to what is in your heart. Saying prayers of gratitude in the morning and at night, before meals or before leaving your house helps in appreciate all the things that we are thankful for. You’ll be surprised at how many things just pass us by without us appreciating them. By expressing your gratefulness, you are also reminded that we should take the time to listen and understand ourselves. At the end of the day, knowing that you are truly happy with your life and with yourself is what really matters.
Day 4 “Thanking Others and Paying It Forward”
Sometimes, we forget how fulfilling it is to recognize someone else’s efforts when they perform their duties well. Today, thank the lady that serves you coffee at Starbucks, or the office mate you go out to lunch with. Thank everyone for their help paying special attention to those that you might inadvertently dismiss or don’t ordinarily thank–make sure you mean it.
By expressing your heartfelt gratitude for other people’s efforts, you acknowledge how each person contributes to bringing joy and value into your life even by just doing seemingly minute things for us. As mentioned in the Bible: 2 Corinthians 9:6; “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” During this exercise in gratitude challenge, we are encouraged to express gratitude to all the good people in our lives as well as welcome new people into ours.
Day 5 “Thank Yourself Day”
One of the greatest dilemmas we face today is being stuck with feelings of insecurity and failure. Truth is, we can never be too good and generous with ourselves. This day is just about you. While we are busy making sure our loved ones needs are taken care of, we sometimes forget to tend to our own needs. Speak lovingly to yourself and watch as that simple act generates more joy in your day. Forgive yourself, treat yourself to a delightful indulgence. Do something that you have been putting off in order to cater to the needs of others.
Day 6 “Surprise Someone”
Surprise someone. It may be your mom or that old friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Write them a short but sweet note, or better yet, send them a thoughtful gift as a way to appreciate them. Do small acts of generosity and kindness. Give someone your place in line, help someone pay for something they have been wanting to buy for a long time, or bring food to a neighbor. Arranging a surprise for someone never fails.
In fact, to surprise someone means that you took time and effort to make another person’s day special. The thought in itself is what makes it truly really heartwarming. An unconditional way of showing someone that you appreciate them without expecting anything in return is one of the best way to show gratitude. Who knows perhaps, they would want to take on this challenge next!
Day 7 “A Day of Reflection”
As the final day of this challenge, look back and reflect. Compare how you see things now vs at the beginning of the challenge. How you felt each day you accomplished the challenge? What are some of the things you’ve learned along the way and are grateful for? What are the things that you’ve taken for granted before? Etc. Remember that it takes 21 days for a habit to form; consistent practice makes perfect!
One good idea is to keep a journal or even create a video diary to record your progress. It’s a great way to keep you inspired. Just remember that you can write or talk about anything, no matter how big or small. You can even schedule an email reminder to yourself for next year’s Thanksgiving. Doing these things will help you reflect how much you’ve grown since and get you grounded for all the beautiful things life has to offer.