Editorial Encore: Gratitude should not be reserved for Thanksgiving

Practice being thankful for the good things — big and small — year-round

It’s as much a Thanksgiving tradition as turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce: Naming the thing — or things — you are grateful for. (After all, it is Thanksgiving.)

It can be hard to pin down what we’re grateful for in a normal year, but after nearly two years of upheaval and illness, chaos and loss, it can be even harder to find something to be thankful for.

There are the big things, of course, for those lucky enough to experience them: Adding a new family member — two-legged or four — by adoption, birth, marriage, etc.; a new job or a job change; a financial windfall; a milestone event, like graduation or a special birthday or anniversary; and more.

It’s much harder to have gratitude when all the “big” things that happened this year aren’t things for which you’re grateful: A death in the family; poor health; losing a job or an opportunity; a relationship ending; missing out on an important event. The list could continue, but we’d rather not dwell on the sad on a day meant for seeing the good.

Gratitude is as much a practice as it is an emotion, and practicing gratitude takes effort. When there isn’t a “big” thing to be thankful for, find something small: A perfect cup of coffee; a funny meme; sunshine on an otherwise miserable day; a smile from a stranger; a found penny; a task accomplished; a beautiful view; a favorite song on the radio; a pleasant conversation; a shorter than normal commute. There are millions of tiny blessings in our days that we often don’t even notice. Or, we allow one medium-sized “bad” thing to wipe away all the good.

For those with the discipline to use one, there are gratitude journals that encourage users to write down something they are thankful for every day. It’s a good sentiment — a reminder that, even on the worst days, something good happens.

On this Thanksgiving — no matter if you are spending it with family or friends or alone or at work — take a moment to close your eyes and think about at least one thing that has made you happy recently or brought a blessing into your life, let gratitude fill you and say a silent thank you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editorial originally published Nov. 25, 2021.