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Thanks for that

ThanksWordleAccording to several articles I’ve read lately (like this one), gratitude is one of the keys to success. Not just saying thank you when someone passes the pepper, or being glad that you have a loving family and your health (though those are all good), but finding something each day about which you can be grateful.

Even the most wretched life has something good in it. You might need to look hard some days, but it’s there.

One post I read recently—unfortunately, I can’t find it now—took it one step further and suggested that we find ways to be grateful for those things that upset us. What??

For example, how can you be grateful to the man who cuts you off in traffic? And not just “I’m grateful that he didn’t hit me.” What if you thought of it like this? “I’m grateful to him for reminding me what not to do. I sometimes forget to slow down and not be a jerk on the road.”

It takes some practice, but I think when we approach the world in a positive light, our days are more satisfying. Finding a way to be thankful, even for those people or events that don’t feel like they deserve it, puts the power in our hands. It gives us control of our emotional reaction to the person, event, or day.

Of course, don’t forget the power of little acts of gratitude either. In our house, we thank each other for everything. Dinner is usually my job, but my husband and kids thank me every night for making it. And, you know what? It helps. Sometimes I get tired of cooking every night, but when they thank me for it, I feel appreciated.

And then I thank them for washing the dishes. 🙂

My son is responsible for bringing in the trash can and recycling bin on Tuesday after school. It’s a “chore”, something he’s explicitly expected to do. But I still thank him for doing it. After all, he’s helping me out.

I think the reason that success comes easier for those who show (genuine) gratitude is that everyone likes to have their efforts noticed. They want to feel appreciated. And if you’re the one doing the appreciating, they’re more likely to support you in your quest.

So, go get your gratitude on this Thanksgiving and every day.

And THANK YOU to all of my readers, students, friends (online and off), and family for sticking with me on this journey. You make it a joy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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  1. Reply

    Oh Gwen, thank you for this post! My in-laws arrive tomorrow, er, ‘sometime’ tomorrow. As they say, they are in no hurry… but I should have the thanksgiving meal ready for… oh, let’s say maybe 7pm? -unless they arrive earlier. Last year, my husband and I were starving and they had stopped at Cracker Barrel… sigh!

    In my family we ate at noon on Thanksgiving and then spent the entire afternoon enjoying the day, cousins playing touch football, elders watching the parades on TV, Moms doing dishes (groan!) Dads thinking they were helping but mainly watching the Moms. Then at 5, we’d sit down for turkey sandwiches and then we’d all go for a walk around the neighborhood. They are all gone, my parents all my grandparents, my aunts and uncles. I am stunned and often share a few memories with a cousin or two. The cousins have all created their own large families. I wasn’t so lucky. My holiday is so different.

    Every year, I get sad thinking of how the day has become the day my Mother in Law shows her disapproval of whom her son married. She’ll hover, offer to help and look shocked if I ask her to do something. She prefers to say passive aggressive things until she makes me cry… then, she runs into the spare room and wails, telling my husband and her husband that I don’t like her. Then, I get really drunk… Everyone ends the day somehow thinking I ruined Thanksgiving. I look for hidden cameras but no this is not a reality show.

    I read your post and thought, huh. There is a reason we live 1000 miles away from them. For fifty weeks a year, we have a loving home with four wonderful dogs. I am living my dream writing everyday. As pathetic as it sounds, I really do have wonderful virtual friendships online. Next year, we take the foster children course and hopefully fill our home with children seeing love. So, I am grateful for my in laws for showing me a tiny glimpse into how miserable those foster children feel and what a joy it will be to give them memories and love, like I had.

    I’m not sure whether this will help me tomorrow but your post has made me feel gratitude for the less than loving family for showing me what not to do and reminding me that I know what to do. 🙂 My husband told me that we eat at noon, a small intimate feast, which will then go wrapped into the oven on warm. We will drive to a friend who had her knee replaced last week and leave a plate of food. Then we come home and relax in front of a fire. That’s the plan!

    I know this sounded terribly whiney and ‘oh-pity-me’ but I really do feel better! Thanks Gwen!

    • Reply

      Oh, Cristine, thanks for sharing. I’m sorry your MIL makes what should be a happy family day such a nightmare. (And you might find this article from ZenHabits helpful in dealing with her: I was just thinking yesterday how hard it is to remember that when someone reacts negatively to us, it’s often about them and what’s going on in their head/life. I’m still figuring out how to keep that in mind when it happens. 😉

      Anyway, I love your outlook, and I”m glad if I’ve been able to help in any way. I think making our own life and traditions separate from our parents and the expectations of others takes a lot of courage. As does remembering what we have to be grateful for when surrounded by those who would bring us down. I’m certainly no expert.

      The plan you and your husband have for tomorrow sounds wonderful. I hope you have a fabulous day. 🙂

      • Reply

        Thanks Gwen, I loved that article… it really is all about not being a toddler and knowing how to handle the toddler in others -even if it means just accepting it. I will have a wonderful day, and I always have NaNoWriMo for escape! My husband says he hopes I don’t win this year, it will mean we had a great holiday… gotta love his optimism 😉

  2. Reply

    I should like to tell you how much I appreciate you through the inspiration of your blog and how Thankful I am that you touch my life. Happy Thanksgiving, Friend!

  3. Reply

    Gwen: An enjoyable post, and I thank you for being such a good on=line friend who’s always willing to answer questions about Scirvener! I hope your Thanksgiving is a good one. Take care. 🙂

  4. Reply

    I have been focusing on finding the positive in all actions instead of grumbling and mumbling. I even go so far as to sit quietly if my hubby starts in on what I like to call one of his old fart rants. I wait until he’s done. I don’t feed the conversation. If I can’t find anything nice to reply with, I change the subject to something silly.
    What this attitude has done for me is lighten my spirits and those around me. It’s infectious in all good ways.
    May your Thursday be filled with friendship and good times together. Eat well. Make merry. Dream big.

    • Reply

      That’s a great attitude, Penquility! Like anything, a lot of our actions and reactions are habits, and I’m trying to change mine, but it takes awareness first. It’s slow going on my end, but I’m working at it. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful holiday!

  5. Reply

    Reblogged this on DIANA BELCHASE and commented:
    My friend Gwen Hernandez said it so well that the only thing I can add is Happy Thanksgiving everyone!Hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday — Thanksgiving and Chanukah both!

  6. Reply

    Wonderful reminder of the proper attitude in life. Gratitude. It seems to be lacking a bit these days, but it’s nice to see it here. And in that same vein, thanks for letting me tag along on your journey. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and I expect it will only get better. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

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