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November 25, 2021

Feeling grateful? It’s okay if you don’t // Thanksgiving 2021

By Angela Beeler

Last November, I didn’t spend Thanksgiving with my family, and it was the first time that I remember being apart from the people I love.  Catherine, Emily, and I were in a self-imposed quarantine because we each had extended family members who were considered high-risk. So we decided to spend Thanksgiving with each other in lieu of spending it with our families. Each of us brought our favorite family recipe to share, we went on a hayride, took family photos, and spent the entire day together. At the risk of sounding ungrateful to my own family -- it was one of the most memorable moments of 2020.

Even though it wasn’t the family tradition that we each grew up was a beautiful “family” experience. And I’ll always be grateful for it.

As we approach this November and enter into a season of gratitude, I am aware that there has been tremendous loss, fear, disappointment, and frustration for us all.  Nothing seems normal anymore, and the constant uncertainty has taken its toll on us.  These things can chip away at our ability to feel grateful for anything.  But here’s my hot take on gratitude:  you don’t necessarily have to feel it to express it.

The act of gratitude is at times a discipline, at times a perspective, and at times a feeling. If this season has you struggling to feel grateful, lean into the discipline of it and look at your situation from a different perspective.  And most importantly, give yourself grace and compassion when the last thing you feel is grateful.

Speaking of a discipline and perspective, here are a few ways you can practice gratitude even when you’re not necessarily feeling it:

  • DO A BASICS CHECKLIST: review your basic needs and acknowledge their importance. Take note of every need being met and repeat key phrases like “I am grateful for a place to live. I am thankful for the ability to move my body. I am grateful for the food in my pantry.”

  • GO BEYOND THE BASICS:  we all have surplus and excess, and these items are worthy of gratitude.  I’ve heard it said that if you own more than one book and one pair of shoes, you’re considered wealthy in some parts of the world.  Take a tour of your home and identify all the ways you’re “wealthy.”

  • SERVE OR GIVE: when you don’t feel grateful, GIVE someone else the opportunity to be grateful by serving or giving to them. For example, drop off a meal to a neighbor, pay for someone’s food at a restaurant, donate unwanted items to a local shelter, write a letter to a friend, or pay someone a compliment. You’ll be surprised how quickly these acts of service make a difference in your perspective.

  • MOVE YOUR BODY: It’s basic science:  Moving your body releases endorphins that make you feel better.  Feeling better makes you more positive, and being more positive increases your chance of feeling grateful. That’s a formula that can benefit us all!

Okay, so what are some ways you channel an “attitude of gratitude”? I’d love to hear about them!

This probably goes without saying, but Catherine, Emily, and I are so grateful for you.  There’s not a day that goes by that we aren’t reminded of how lucky we are to serve, know, and love you. It’s been 10 years since we began building this REFIT community, and there are countless moments each day that remind us just how lucky we are to be part of this community.

We never have to reach far to find a reason to be grateful -- and for that, we are grateful.