Thoughts on Being Thankful Specifically
Why did the Pilgrims celebrate Thanksgiving? Basically, it seems, they were thrilled that they had food. It had been a rough journey across the ocean and a shaky start in their new home.
The holiday was celebrated generally over the years but it didn’t really become a big national thing until around the time of the Civil War. According to the History Channel, Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer and editor, advocated for a day of thanks. And, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November to officially be a national holiday for giving thanks as a way to bring together a divided country.
This concept of having a collective time of thanks highlights that the act of being thankful heals wounds and provides strength. It’s important for our community and for us as individuals. Of course being thankful shouldn’t be limited to just one day, but having that day serves as a reminder and provides focus.
So what are you thankful for? Ask that of people around you and you will generally get a broad answer – friends, family, work, food. All good things. But if you really want to draw on the power of giving thanks, take a lesson from writing and get specific. I mean really specific. And add in the “why.”
I’m not just thankful for my dog. I’m thankful for my sweet, soft, furry faced bundle of joy with her big brown eyes that look at me so intently every morning imploring me to get my shoes on and take her for a run. And, I’m thankful for her because she pulls me out of my head and forces me to think about something other than my issues and reminds me to just enjoy this moment.
I have found that being so specific helps me to appreciate whatever I am thankful for even more. The same goes for adding in the “why.” It establishes the context of this thing and connects it to the rest of my life. To draw on the writing analogy, it’s a way of showing rather than just telling. I think it works because it sets out the story of this thing and stories are appealing.
Want to take it to the next level? Be thankful for a problem in your life.
I’m thankful that the car wouldn’t start after I left my key in the ignition overnight. Although it resulted in me missing and important networking meeting, I had backup to get the girls to school and it revealed a weak battery before the car failed to start on a freezing morning when help was not readily available.
I will fully admit that it is easier to be thankful for problems that have already been solved. It’s much harder when you’re in the midst of them and you aren’t sure things won’t get worse. But even with troubles, being thankful can help change your perspective and attitude and give you new insights into managing or coping with them.
On this Thanksgiving, I wish you all the turkey or tofu you want to eat cooked just the way you like it and just enough pumpkin pie or your alternative favorite to leave you feeling satisfied without being overly stuffed.
Special challenge for my blogging colleagues: use Thanksgiving as a prompt for a blog post. What does the holiday mean to you? Why does it matter for your readers? What could they do differently this year? If you write one, please let me know – I want to read it! send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming in January: Make Your Mark Writing for Blogs, an online course that will show you how to unleash your words.