By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As therapist Barton Goldsmith explains, “Gratitude is a way of life, not something that you think about once a year.” So how can you become more grateful? Goldsmith shares some of his favorite tips.
Tribune News Service
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Fabulous food, family, friends, and football: that’s the makings of a wonderful day and life, if you can keep the energy going.
It all starts with having gratitude. Sometimes that can be a challenge, but if you can just be grateful for where you are at the moment, then you have what you need to move your life forward.
Gratitude is a way of life, not something that you think about once a year.
If you weave an attitude of gratitude into your thinking-and-feeling process, your life will get better. People who start writing down three things for which they’re grateful and doing this every day usually feel more joy within two weeks. Try it.
Remember the good, and don’t let the bad haunt you. Many of us live with having been traumatized in one way or another, and it can get in the way of allowing you to appreciate life.
You need to learn that when uncomfortable memories enter, you can switch to something positive, and that this action will train your brain to have fewer and fewer negative thoughts.
Always give a little more than you get and you will never disappoint anyone or yourself. They say that sharing is caring, and I can’t not care.
From homeless people to homeless animals, I have to be involved in helping, one way or another.
Those people who put their own Thanksgiving aside and help those in need, or who have Thanksgiving guests who would otherwise have nowhere to go, really embrace the true meaning of the holiday.
Time with friends and family is what we work so hard for, and this holiday is all about family and friends. I truly believe that time is the most precious thing in the world, and I love spending as much of it as possible in a loving environment. Having my peeps around me makes everything okay.
Inspiration comes when we have so much love and energy inside our beings that we can’t help but express it in creative and uplifting ways. This happens more often when you are with other people who inspire you in different ways. If you have those folks in your life, you are blessed, and hopefully they will be around the Thanksgiving table.
Treasure these moments, both the good and the awkward. Family gatherings seldom go smoothly, and if you plan for a few bumps in the road, you will be able to negotiate them more gracefully and not let the bumps ruin your holiday.
All of it is a gift, even the broken glasses, damaged pride, and silly misunderstandings. Let it go, and just stay with your Thanksgiving thinking.
Understanding that we each have our own way of doing life gives you another tool to deal with the unavoidable holiday mishaps.
So, Uncle Don is not shy about his political opinions and Aunt Sue can’t stop complaining about her daughter’s wedding that happened ten years ago.
If you just accept that this is normal behavior for them and don’t let it ruffle your feathers, you will have a nice day and dinner.
Deserving people come in and out of our lives, but the ones who stick around become part of the fabric. Being related to someone you respect is a great feeling. Those connections are some of the most valuable that we have, because they teach us to be our best selves.
Emotional connections are really what life is all about. No matter how much fame and fortune, if there’s no one to share it with, you might as well be in a cave. The people who are sitting around the table with you on Thanksgiving all play a part in making you who you are. Let them bring out the best.
I have never loved my life more than I do right now, and there are plenty of challenges. Being grateful is one of the most important emotional actions I take to keep myself balanced and as happy as possible. Life will never be perfect, but it can come pretty close.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)