On Thanking Inward: Practicing Gratitude For Yourself
No matter where I end up on Thanksgiving — which relatives populate the table, which side dishes make the cut — the same question always comes up at some point. I’m sure it does for you, too.
“So, what is everyone thankful for this year?”
We go around the table. The chef always gets a nod, as do the children, the parents — “I’m thankful for my wonderful family,” we say, and we mean it. Thanksgiving is a time to take a pause, to be together, and to reflect on our gratitude for the ability to do so. For those of us who weren’t able to gather with family last year because of the pandemic, that gratitude will be felt even stronger this year, and we really will mean it.
I’d like to introduce a new notion, though. Someone else to be grateful for, someone else to thank. Yes, we should still thank the chef and yes, when asked, we should say with honest grace and enthusiasm that we are thankful for our families. But, in a year that’s given us plenty of challenges for navigating the world as humans, parents, women, professionals, partners, daughters, sisters — I think we should thank ourselves.
"This year, specifically, has brought a cornucopia of challenges, for me and every other human being I know. There has been a lot to navigate. And you know who navigated it? You did. I did. We did."
Seriously, I do. I think that this Thanksgiving, after we’ve stuffed the turkey and gotten it into the oven early enough to be beautifully golden brown by midday, after we’ve planned where everyone will sit, after we’ve made sure we’ve tended to everyone’s favorite dishes, I think we should take a moment for ourselves. Perhaps it’ll be when we’re getting dressed for the event. Perhaps it’ll be wrapped up in a deep breath before we go to sleep the night before. Perhaps it’ll be as we’re stirring a roux into the turkey juices to make Thanksgiving gravy. Whenever it is, I think we should all close our eyes for a second or two, and we should say what we’re grateful for from ourselves.
Did you get up every day this year, powering through no matter what you were navigating emotionally, professionally, physically? Did you give yourself days to rest even when your worker bee mind told you not to? Did you work even when your tired body told you not to? Did you say yes to some things and no to others? Did you give yourself grace? Did you set an example for others in your world? Did you follow someone else’s example? Did you accept life’s lessons? Did you do all of these things or none of them at all? Did you do something no one else would think to be grateful for but you know what a difference it made in your minute, your day, your life, and so you know to pause and express gratitude to yourself for doing it?
The holidays, for many of us, are centered around taking care of others. We invite, we anticipate, we prepare, we serve. Those are nice things, and for myself, I can say that I enjoy doing them for my loved ones. But this year, specifically, has brought a cornucopia of challenges, for me and every other human being I know. There has been a lot to navigate. And you know who navigated it? You did. I did. We did. And so, this year, as we sit down to think about everything outside of ourselves that we’re grateful for — all while we’re taking care of those people — I really think we should take a few moments to think about the things inside our own souls we’re grateful for. The things that make us who we are. And we should take care of those people, too.