If you are on Facebook any time during the month of November, you’ve probably seen it, the myriad of friends who post, each and every day, what they are grateful for. I admit to participating in the shared expressions of gratefulness, and feeling purposeful gratitude with each status update.
This year, however, it feels a bit like a performance. It’s easy to sit at home and pick apart my life and share my appreciation with others, but what about those of us who are struggling? I recently met a mom in my neighborhood whose son has been battling leukemia for the past five and a half years. Every time I read about her son’s chemo treatments, which make him incredibly sick and weak, I am in awe. This mom has expressed nothing but grace and fortitude in the midst of such a frightening time. Could I be so strong? Another friend lost her job after the government shutdown and now struggles to put food on her table. Still, she is positive and hopeful that something better will arise. I don’t know how she continues to be so optimistic during one of the most financially difficult times in her life.
There are so many others who face insurmountable hardships, only to wake up each morning and put a smile on their face. They have inspired me to not only be grateful, but do grateful.
I believe there is nothing more satisfying than creating a space for others to feel gratitude. Why don’t we become the reason others are grateful? Let’s be the change (thank you Gandhi). Below is my list of three simple ways to actively engage in making others feel gratitude. Do you have other ideas? Post them below and help others find ways to create appreciation in the world.
1. Invite a friend to your Thanksgiving table. There are so many people in our communities and neighborhoods who don’t live close to family, and can’t make it home for the upcoming holiday. If you’ve ever spent a Thanksgiving solo you know how depressing that can feel. If you know of someone in your area that will be microwaving their frozen turkey TV dinner, invite them to dine with your family, instead. You’d be amazed at how appreciative someone feels for having a home cooked holiday meal.
2. Create care baggies for the homeless. I’ve seen a few innovative moms post this idea on Facebook and loved it. Take a gallon-size resealable plastic baggie, and load it with winter-items like a space blanket (those sheets that look like they’re made of aluminum foil), gloves, a small pack of Q-Tips, bandages, antibiotic ointment, a travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste, baby wipes, protein bars, powdered Gatorade, gift cards to local fast food restaurants, and a bus pass or a few coins. One mom also thought to print out the phone numbers and addresses of area shelters and soup kitchens and added them to the baggie. A few kind words written on paper along with these bagged essentials can make a world of difference to someone on the streets.
3. Make the effort to express appreciation to anyone who has made a difference in your life. Has someone in your life been a catalyst for positive change? Said a kind word in a moment of need, provided a hot meal when you couldn’t, helped you find resources you wouldn’t have known about otherwise? Tell them. Let them know how important their time and effort was to you, and how their kindness impacted your life. Expressing appreciation for someone else’s gift can be the moment in someone else’s life when they realize they are important in this world. I recently reconnected with a childhood friend and told her how important her words were to me during one of the hardest times in my life. It turns out, she was going through her own rough patch when I reached out to her, and my gratitude reminded her of her own important life purpose.
There are so many more ways to do grateful, and these are just a few. What other ways do you create gratitude? Share your comment below and inspire someone else to not just be grateful, but do grateful. Happy Holidays everyone!