If there has ever been time for introspection, it has been this last year and a half. A global catastrophe united us in grief and in hope. People looked out for neighbors and donated to charities. They did everything they could to keep their small businesses running by adopting innovative ways to keep the lights on. First responders and medical professionals continued in their roles protecting rights and saving lives.
Everywhere, there was much beauty in the midst of untamed ugliness.
What comes next, we have no way of knowing. We can only control the things we can. In the spirit of this coming holiday season, we believe the right thing to do is to go deep and find the gratitude we are beholden to celebrate. Here are a few ways to herald the spirit.
Host a gathering. Invite those you love to a gathering in your alfresco entertainment center. With the weather a little chillier in many regions, you may not be going for a swim, but we’ll take any excuse to crank up that hot tub! Actually, this might be a great time to install that fire pit or fireplace. Those mesmerizing flames offer the ideal ambiance to share cocktails or coffee.
Ask every guest to come with their statement of gratitude to read before the group. You can also ask each to tell every person in the group something about them for which you are grateful. What’s so special about this exercise is that we don’t always realize the positive impact we have on people, so we often need the perceptions of those closest to bring them to light.
Act without reward. Sending money to a charity is a good spend of your dollars. And many charities now offer the opportunity to make consistent contributions, so your credit card or bank account is automatically debited a set amount every month.
A classic move is “paying it backward” by treating the person in line behind you. With today’s scanning technology, you’ll have to go to a staffed toll bridge, but prospects abound on the McDonald’s or Starbuck’s drive thru line. These “butterfly effect” changes are the small ones that ultimately contribute to the big picture.
Embrace yoga. It may seem intimidating if you’ve never tried it, but yoga is not all about achieving gravity defying poses. Gratitude is inherent in the practice. One of the objectives is to take that gratitude from the mat and incorporate it into our daily lives. Many of our clients have added a gazebo or allocated space on their patio for a place to enjoy this much needed Zen time.
Be present. Al Leiter is a former MLB pitcher. When his son Jack (recently picked up in the 2021 Draft by the Texas Rangers) was rising through the ranks in college ball, his father coached him in the ways of the pros. With the pressure of following in a famous father’s footsteps and everything that went along with striving to live his dream, Al gave Jack this solid piece of advice. “Be where your feet are.”
In this case, when standing on the mound facing off against the opposition, he was telling him to not let thoughts of anything but what he was doing to cloud his mind.
Good guidance for all of us: to live in the moment. So, perhaps we strive to put down our phones when going out to dinner with the spouse and listen to our friends without distraction so we may really hear them. We can Tweet all about it later.
Be the change. “Be the change you want to see in the world” is probably the most legendary statement made by Mahatma Gandhi. It’s a simple and beautiful credo that speaks to the fact we are in control of our actions. We should not only forgive and let go while seeing the good in people, we need to be a living testament to taking action.
Instead of complaining that “people are unfriendly,” be the one who smiles and warmly greets those you encounter whether a customer service rep on the phone or the cashier at the grocery store. Positive actions are contagious.
Write a note. Keep a box of notecards in your desk drawer. Periodically go through your contacts and send one to someone you haven’t spoken with in a while or to a person who is going through a rough patch. Emails are great too, of course, and a phone call is a priceless use of real time interaction, but there’s something quaintly old school about taking the time to draft and mail a “thinking of you” piece.
Give out compliments. While these should certainly be genuine, it’s a positive ritual to tell people that their new haircut is great, or their glasses bring out their eyes. Make that direct eye contact and thank the salesperson in Lowe’s for sharing her expertise to assist you with deciding on which appliance best suited your needs.
There are hardworking people all over the world who could do with a break in their day by being recognized for their efforts.
Visit the elderly. Even prior to recent events, many seniors live a cloistered life. According to the National Council on Aging, “Suicidal behavior is common in older adults for a number of reasons. Loneliness has been found to top the list. Many seniors are homebound and live on their own. If their spouse has recently passed on and there are no family members or friends nearby, they may lack the social connections they need to thrive.”
Chronic illness, cognitive impairment, financial concerns, loss of self-sufficiency. These can all add up to unspeakable consequences. When you consider the full life you live, it might be a good time to bring some light into the life of a lonely person.
Share praise. It’s easy to ask for a manager and complain. But if you have received excellent service, get the name of the person, fill out that survey and ask to speak to their superior. Let your neighbors know to ask for Tom the server at that local restaurant, because he is such a fine professional. Some go about their business “just doing their jobs,” but when you encounter someone with passion for their craft and it shows, then shout it from the rooftops!
Volunteer. Thanksgiving Day brings out plenty of volunteers, but soup kitchens and food pantries need support year ‘round. VolunteerMatch is a great place to start! A non-profit, they describe opportunities in a large number of cities across the country so you can find something local. They also offer ways to help with any number of current crises.
Check Zelos out too for information about an exceptional bevy of other companies offering similar services.
As for us, we are grateful we are in the family business. For over 40 years we have gotten to do what we love to do. There’s nothing like it. Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you love.
Providing pool and home improvement loan solutions since 1979, Lyon Financial loves living in gratitude. We also love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information about creating your ideal backyard oasis.