The warm sentiments of gratitude will rise to a fever pitch this week as we prepare for our national holiday of thankfulness.
And while the premise is altogether fitting and necessary, it can be easy to forget the fundamental reason for the day in the frenzy of last-minute grocery store trips, table settings, and cooking preparations.
And of course, there is the widespread (and oft-dreaded) tradition of going around the table for public declarations of what we’re thankful for. While I’m happy with a short prayer, my wife insists on it, and so we do it. All 24 of us.
A.J. Jacobs, author of “Thanks a Thousand” says we don’t have to resort to the boringly bland (“I’m thankful for my friends.”) or the shamelessly shallow (“I’m thankful for my iPhone Xs.”)
Jacobs’ book was created from his idea to thank every person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. The quest takes him around the world and helps him discover how gratitude makes us happier, more generous, and more connected.
If the table-side “What I’m Thankful For” ritual is part of your meal this Thursday, here are Jacobs’ strategies for rising to the occasion:
Thank the obscure
Recognize the most obscure person in the dinner’s supply chain, like the cranberry farmer, the trucker, or the copper miners who facilitate wire manufacturing that powers our homes for cooking and light!
Thank the super-obvious
It’s important to be thankful for things that we take for granted ever day like sight, hearing, taste – and legs. Don’t forget the most basic yet necessary things that make our lives easier and more enjoyable.
Be thankful you live in 2018
Our daily news headlines are shocking and sad to be sure, but the good old days were not really that great.
Past generations have endured violent, disease-ridden, smellier, more sexist, more racist and more homophobic times. To really bring this home, Jacobs has three words: “Surgery without anesthesia.”
Give your gratitude some structure
Go around the table, thanking A to Z. Each person mentions something to be thankful for that begins with their letter of the alphabet. This doesn’t prevent inanity, but it does drive creativity.
Go meta with your thanks
There are a mountain of studies that show gratitude’s benefits: It makes you healthier, more generous, better at sleeping and less stressed. Be thankful that gratitude is so effective!
So be thoughtful, keep it simple, and declare your gratitude proudly.
Have a great week. And Happy Thanksgiving!
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