by Christy Gualtieri
One of my friends is a Russian Orthodox Christian, but because they follow a calendar different from other Christians, the Christmas she celebrates doesn’t fall on December 25th – it falls on January 7th. “I like the idea of Russian Christmas,” she recently said. “I think it’s so sad when it’s like bam! Christmas is over. January is so cold and dark and boring.”
I feel the same way about Thanksgiving. I know that Christmas is the traditional “favorite holiday,” but I always loved Thanksgiving just a bit more. Although we still have Thanksgiving to look forward to this year, it’s still easy for me to pack away the parade, the wonderful food, and the overall extra feelings of thankfulness as soon as Black Friday comes around.
But I know, just as you do, that it doesn’t have to be that way – we can keep that spirit alive the entire year! Of course, a Thanksgiving Day parade in April would seem strange, and no one’s really into bringing celery-laden stuffing as a potluck to a summer backyard barbecue…but I think it’s fair to say that practicing gratitude and thankfulness all year round is not only appreciated, but sorely needed.
Here are a few ways for us to bring that energy into practice all year long!
Keep a Gratitude Journal: Much like how doctors recommend those who want to lose weight keep a food journal to keep track of what they eat, it’s a good idea to adopt the practice of keeping a “gratitude journal,” to keep track of what we’re thankful for. It doesn’t have to be anything big – even small things, like good driving weather for a trip or a short wait at the grocery checkout line can make the list! The more you’re aware of the things you have to be thankful for, the more likely you’ll be to look for them day-to-day, and the happier you’ll be!
Volunteer: Writer and Philosopher C.S. Lewis once said, “Humility is not thinking little of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself little.” All of us have interests, and most of those interests have causes you can rally behind! Pittsburgh Psychotherapy Associates just donated money to one of our favorite animal rescue organizations, thanks to support from people like you! Find a way to volunteer a bit of your time in service to others (again, doesn’t have to be anything big), and you’ll find yourself opening up even more in gratitude!
Write it out…to others! When I was pregnant with my first child, and after he was born, my days (like any other mom’s) were sometimes saturated with anxiety, exhaustion, and physical discomfort. My husband would hand-write post-it notes of encouragement to me and leave them around the house where he was sure I’d see them, and they did so much to boost my spirits. I’m thankful for his thoughtfulness, and it’s inspired me to show others how I feel about them in the same way.
These are just a few ideas, but they’ve helped me nurture my ability to live out an “attitude of gratitude” as the months go by. I hope they work for you!
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at openthoseojos.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117.
Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!