Thanksgiving is here and I love the holiday. I also appreciate that being thankful can be challenging in difficult times, whether the challenges are related to finances, health, or relationships. But it’s precisely when we find ourselves in challenging circumstances that thankfulness is especially valuable and helpful.
Gratitude is actually medically proven to lift our spirits and improve our health. And while this may disappoint some folks, the object of our gratitude is entirely irrelevant, at least in terms of the health and happiness benefits which it creates.
Perhaps because Hanukkah is also fast-approaching, I find myself thinking in 8’s. Whatever the reason, the following eight simple steps will actually help us all to stay a little more thankful this Thanksgiving and find new happiness because we are.
1. Find what you’re grateful for. The real uncertainty we face about our futures can make us quite fearful and sad. Locating those things for which we can still be grateful, brings joy even in the face of those challenges without pretending they are not real.
2. Articulate it. Tell a friend or loved one a story about something for which you are grateful. Don’t be surprised to find yourself smiling by the end of that story.
3. Consider the difference between wealth and value. While material wealth is important, it is not the only source of real value in our lives. We can all celebrate value, even when the material wealth in our lives is taking a beating.
4. Remember that wealth begins within. An ancient rabbinic teaching reminds us that we are wealthy when we are happy with what we possess.
5. Acknowledge that happiness and satisfaction are different. We can want more than we currently have and still be happy with what we’ve got. Wanting more does not have to get in the way of enjoying what we already have. If it does, we will never have enough.
6. Appreciate that abundance, be it relationships or in material wealth is all relative. A person who lives in a $100,000 house in a neighborhood of $75,000 homes experiences living in a mansion. The same house in a neighborhood of $500,000 homes may feel like a hovel.
7. Help yourself by helping others. The holidays are a great time to reach out to other people in need. Helping others address their needs is one of the best ways to relieve the anxiety we may feel about our own.
8. We all have something to give. No matter how difficult our circumstances may be, we can all offer support to those around us. Whether it’s a penny, a hug, or much more, the act of giving always makes us feel as if we have more than we thought we had.
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About Windows & DoorsAuthor, radio and TV talk show host, and President of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, Brad Hirschfield is the author of You Don’t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Listed as one of the nation’s 50 most influential rabbis in Newsweek, and a regular commentator on Court TV, he is the creator of the popular series, Building Bridges, airing on Bridges TV, and the co-host of the weekly radio show, Hirschfield and Kula.
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