Four Steps to a Grateful Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving week!  Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s about family, food, and festivity. But, most importantly, it is a time to be intentional in reminiscing about how blessed I am. Too often we focus on the disappointments and the failures without being truly thankful. In a real way, thankfulness is the key to happiness and success in all your endeavors. How thankful are you? Today, I would like you and me to deeply consider our gratitude.

Even as I write this, I am extremely disappointed with some news I received today. I invested a lot of emotional, financial, and spiritual resources in this endeavor. And, right now it feels like it was for naught. I am still in a somewhat disoriented state from the news.

This then is the absolute perfect time to deeply consider all for which I am grateful. I choose not to focus on the reality of my disappointment. Rather, I will prioritize my gratefulness.

I choose to remember the people that touched me this year (including my awesome wife and children). I choose to focus on the breakthroughs that I gained.  I choose to deliberate on the amazing future that I expect to have.

No matter your condition, thankfulness is a choice.

I would like you to consider four steps to choose thankfulness this Thanksgiving.

Step 1: As specifically as you can write down the ten things that you are most grateful for this year.

Be specific. In other words, don’t just write that you are thankful for your spouse. Record specifically what your spouse did this year that makes you particularly thankful.

Here’s my top-10 to guide your own list generation.

The Top 10 Things for Which I’m Most Grateful in 2014

  1. My wife’s personal commitment to being more grateful and its impact on our home
  2. My sister’s (Letitia) pregnancy and impending delivery–due date December 2nd. This is the first child (Kennedy) that one of my sister’s will have.
  3. Successfully completed a 12-month vegetarian fast (with my spouse) in which I consecrated myself to the pursuit of my purpose
  4. My children’s (Quilan and Kyrsten’s) academic success in grad school and high school respectively
  5. Launching a new website with 35 consecutive weeks of new blog posts and podcasts
  6. Spending two days with a branding expert (Dick Bruso) to develop the PERFECT brand for me (stay tuned for more information about that)
  7. Spending seven days in Trinidad with one of my best friends (Paula) and her husband (Philip Thompson)
  8. Spending two days in Atlanta with a couple (Pastors Wesley and Rose Marie Greene) who I think of as spiritual mentors
  9. Launching a MasterMind group with an amazing group of achievers
  10. Finishing my first 10-mile Broad Street run in Philadelphia (along with 35,000 others)

Now, it is your turn. What is your top 10? Once you have them written down, sort them from most to least significance to you. When you’ve completed that, move to Step 2.

Step 2: Identify the Thankfulness Themes  that are evident from your Top 10 list.

Now that you that you have your list. Carefully review it. Consolidate it into key themes for which you are grateful.

From my list, I’ve boiled it down to three Thankfulness Themes for 2014 as follows:

  • Personal and familial achievements
  • Personal platform development
  • Mutually rewarding friendships

What thankfulness themes do you see among your Top 10 list? This more concise list allows you to easily see and articulate the significant thrusts in your year.

Step 3: Express your thankfulness to the people that you mentioned on your list

One of the most powerful aspects of this exercise is the identification of the people that made your year so remarkable.

As you look through your Top-10 list, identify each person individually.

Have you expressed your gratitude to this person for the impact that s/he had on your year?

Too often we fail to fully show our appreciation to those people who so dramatically impact our lives.

Take a few moments to put your thanks in writing to each one. You can send them a physical or virtual card of appreciation. You can send a well-considered text or email.  You can give a phone call.

The form of the appreciation is less important than the heart-felt thankfulness that you show.  When you reach out, remember to do two things.

  •  Be specific in telling them what you really appreciated
  • Tell them the impact that it had on you

Step 4: Thank God from whom all blessings flow

Well, this is my faith worldview. No Thanksgiving is fully complete in my mind without giving thanks to my God for orchestrating things on my behalf, for bringing central people in my life, and for giving me the will to choose a path of purpose.

Using my Thankfulness themes, my simple prayer of thanksgiving looks something like this:

Dear God. I want to thank you for who you are. Your ways are far above my own. But, I want to thank you for an amazing 2014. I’ve had some significant disappointments. But, the achievements that I and my family have experienced this year are simply amazing. And, I never imagined the way that you would unfold my own platform development as you have. Last, but not least, thank you for the relationships that have nurtured me and my family this year. And, thank you for allowing me to invest in these others as well. There is no greater privilege.  These, and so many other, blessings dwarf the disappointments that I’ve endured. I’m excited about what you’re already setting up for 2015. With a grateful heart, I submit this prayer to you. Amen.

So, that’s my 2014 prayer of thanksgiving. How about you?

Leave a comment and let me know for what you are thankful. Can’t wait to hear it.

I wish you the happiest of Thanksgiving holidays.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Hawk

    Thanks for reminding the importance of giving specific reasons why I am grateful and thankful for the people in my life and what they mean to me. I know that I give thanks everyday, but it is usually a general comment such as I am thankful to have my wife or sons in my life. While these comments show that I am thinking of them, the why, what, where, when, and how of their impact and importance drives them to do more for our relationship.

    • Yes. You’re 100% correct. I think many of us show our gratitude in general, if at all. But, by being more specific we can better sense the impact that people have on us, the extent of their influence, and how we can specifically appreciate them for their involvement in our lives. In general, it just helps us to have more gratitude about all that we are blessed to have. I’m glad this resonated with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the latest post on the Perfect Christmas gift.