Thanksgiving. It’s an invitation to be thankful and to find the positive sparks in life even though the news headlines may be negative. It’s a great reminder to practice gratitude that has been proved to make people happier. Are you feeling thankful?
I am very blessed in countless ways, but I’m human: I get used to my blessings, so they become normal, and I don’t notice them (often enough). That’s why a gratitude journal and a gratitude holiday such as Thanksgiving can be helpful.
Count my blessings
It entices me to count my blessings and thus become happier. It helps to see the glass half-full. It helps to be generous because I cannot give what I haven’t got. I suddenly feel rich when I become aware of how lucky I am.
Especially in the dreadful light of recent terrorist attacks, the refugee crisis, the climate crisis, war, power play, ego-driven leaders, and so on…. Feeling blessed I will be kinder to anyone who crosses my path.
I was tempted to write down a list of 101 things I am thankful of. But that would be tedious to read. It’s because I love the spirit of Thanksgiving. My advice to my kids is: can’t sleep at night? Don’t count sheep but count your blessings.Can’t sleep? Don’t count sheep but count your blessings #thanksgiving Click To Tweet
I’ve become better at this over time. I used to be more dissatisfied and frustrated. Getting older I start to appreciate life more. It’s easier to see the silver lining of dark clouds. I enjoy small things much more than before. I can be happy with a stunning sunset, or a crazy running dog, a laughing child, showers of rain, warm sunlight, wise books, a smile, etc.
I’ve become more positive. Maybe also more sensitive or perceptive. But definitely more appreciative.
Thankful Europe?Just behave normal: no thanks needed. #Dutch #thanksgiving Click To Tweet
Thanksgiving is not part of European, secular culture. I live in the Netherlands, and my ancestors may have celebrated good harvests in their villages long ago, they may have thanked God in church, but we don’t have a national holiday dedicated to being thankful.
I don’t suggest we add another Christmas-like holiday to our busy schedules with exaggerated shopping and turkey eating, but I do appreciate the attention for a thank-you.
Who or what are you thankful of? Positive leadership and happiness research shows how your well-being increases when you acknowledge who or what you are thankful of. You can write down what went well at the end of the day in a gratitude journal. Or you can write a letter to someone to thank them. I keep a log of good things daily in my mind and regularly write them down.
But thanking another person in writing? I say Thank-you in emails, and I mean it. These are short, practical, daily thank-you’s. But I don’t write solemn, long letters. “Well, well – what does she want from me?” The recipient might think. Or: “It’s no big deal – cool down!” This may have to do with the culture in the Netherlands.
Be normal! No thanks needed
We have a saying that reflects Dutch national culture (even though this culture is slowly being influenced by the world wide web). Translated it reads: Please behave normally and you’ll be crazy enough.
This culture doesn’t like people who stand out. It appreciates modesty. We should be equal. We’re wary of awards, winners, and competition. As the cliche says: we had to build those dikes together to fend off the sea, so we needed to collaborate.
Collaboration asks for some thank-you’s but not in a too-public, embarrassing way. Writing a thank-you letter may be too much for Dutchies. I was raised without too many compliments or thank-you’s. Just behave normal. No extra thanks are necessary.
I think that the Netherlands could learn a few things from Positive Leadership and the spirit of Thanksgiving. But that’s food for another blog post…
Gratitude and generosity
It’s time to practice gratitude and be generous. The workplace and the world need you: people who smile, coworkers that help others, leaders who engage their teams, consultants that help bring about positive change.
Imagine the difference if more people feel thankful #thanksgiving Click To Tweet
Imagine the difference we could make if more people would practice gratitude, kindness, and positivity at work? And how that would spread to our families, communities, the world?
Your formal position doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you WANT to make a positive difference. It starts with a simple Thank You. Be thankful.
I invite you to share a few of your blessings below in the comments. Or name the person who you would like to thank.
I’d love to hear from you.
Marcella Bremer is an author, and culture & change consultant. She co-founded this Leadership & Change Blog and OCAI-online.com.