Today is Thanksgiving—the day which once celebrated the end of the harvest and has since grown into something bigger. Thanksgiving has evolved into a global migration in which family and loved ones reconnect over a meal to share something magical. Today, many people will be voicing the things they’re thankful for, but I want to introduce you to a new tradition—an exercise of gratefulness.
Around this time of year we are taking time to reflect, but even in these moments of reflection, we hold ourselves back. We tend to only reflect on the things we deem important or worthy enough to reflect on. We focus on the big things—the things that we already prioritize or focus on. Thus, we rarely spend time truly reflecting on our lives and everything we are thankful for.
Today, I challenge you to exhaust your thanks. Take the time to reflect not only on your recent daily life, but your life as a whole. Rid yourself of any distractions and spend some serious time in thought reflecting on the things you’re thankful for and the things you take for granted. Very often, we forgot about the little things which is why I want you to exhaust your thanks.
Spend 45 minutes distraction free, documenting everything you’re thankful for. Put your phone in another room and write everything down on paper, but no matter what you do, don’t stop. The point of spending this amount of time recording everything you’re thankful for is to force yourself to look past the typical things. What good is reflecting on the things that you’re thankful for if every year you’re only ever reflecting on the same ol’ typical things. This exercise is designed to make you aware of everything you’re thankful for, even the little things and especially the things you take for granted.
This exercise won’t necessarily be easy. 45 minutes is a long time, especially when you can’t distract yourself. To make things easy, start off with the easy stuff that you’re thankful for: your family, your job, your house. Knock out all of the big things you’re thankful for, these are the easiest to determine. Once you get all of the big stuff on paper after 5 or 10 minutes, things will begin to get more and more difficult. This is supposed to happen. This is all about digging deeper, opening your eyes, and being more aware of the things that we never acknowledge.
I ran through this exercise myself, and I stand by the fact that it’ll open your eyes and your heart. The chances are you’re going to be busy today, so next week if you’re on the newsletter, I’ll be sure to remind you of the exercise. I may even remind you again two weeks from now. The reason for the persistence is because I truly believe in this, and it’s so easy to write off or forget to deeply and genuinely reflect on the things we’re thankful for.
As I went through this exercise, I became really invested and ended up writing a couple thousand words. While a lot of the things are mundane and simple, I found myself becoming more and more vulnerable towards the end and even the littlest of things had me on the verge of tears. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and ability to wake up every morning and go for a run. I’m so thankful for the leisure, convenience, and safety of running water, and am equally as thankful for great charities out there like charity:water that are working to make that a reality for others. I’m thankful for the opportunity to hop on a plane today to go visit my dad, and am even more thankful for all of the underrecognized people that work day in and day out to make that possible. Make some time today or tomorrow to exhaust your thanks.