What are you looking forward to during the month of November? If you’re like me, November is a time to reflect on what you’re grateful for and prepare for the holiday season.
In America, during November we celebrate Thanksgiving which is one of my favorite holidays. When we were children we were fed lies about the origins of the day–idealized representations of genocide designed to make us think that colonization and oppresion are ok. Now that I know the true history of the holiday, I think of it as a celebration of everything I have to be thankful for instead. From the family and friends that gather around our dinner table to the delicious food and traditions like watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade–I am so blessed–and it only seems right to take time to reflect on these blessings.
In addition to practicing gratitude, I’m celebrating the changing of the weather. While winter doesn’t officially begin until the end of December, the air is already becoming cooler, and the threat of frost looms.
Winter is decidedly unpopular where I live. “I hate winter” is a phrase I hear on a daily basis. For a while, I also uttered this phrase, but this year I’m determined to enjoy every season to its fullest. To do this, I’ll continually remind myself of Winter’s advantages, and after the holidays my plan is to remind you of them too.
As I write this, it has occurred to me that learning to enjoy each season is another form of gratitude. Often we allow ourselves to wallow about the things that make us anxious or depressed, like our least favorite season. Yet, research shows that practicing gratitude can help us to feel happier overall. This shouldn’t come as a surprise…how many of us truly feel better after complaining or dwelling on negative circumstances? There’s a difference between venting and carrying the weight of negativity with us. When we carry it, we become weighed down. Releasing that weight is important to our happiness and health, and practicing gratitude (even towards the seasons) is one of the ways we can do this.
Here are a few ideas to kick off your gratitude practice:
- Start a gratitude journal. Every morning or night write about anything you are grateful for. It can be a sentence, a paragraph, or even just one word. When I kept a journal daily, I wrote three things down. Don’t think anything is too big or too small to include. I wrote “Chai tea” on numerous occasions.
- Follow a 30 Days of Gratitude challenge like this. You can think of the answer, write it down, or discuss it with someone. My fiance and I are doing this one every night in November.
- Write thank you notes. Either physically write them and give them to people, or write them in your head.
- Practice mindset-shifting. Whenever negative feelings arise (such as anger or frustration), analyze the situation and seek out the silver lining. There’s always something that you can be grateful for if you look hard enough. Many of us are too stubborn to let the light in–but does wallowing really, truly, feel good? Does our negativity change the situation or “get back at” the person we’re displeased with? Usually not. Even if it did, why spread ill-will?
Wishing you a holiday season filled with peace, love, and gratitude,