7 Tips to Cultivate Gratitude This Thanksgiving

November 25, 2020 Lynne Levy

3-minute read

As this year has continually reminded all of us, tomorrow is not guaranteed. The season of Thanksgiving is an opportunity to remind ourselves to embrace each moment with gratitude and grace.

After all, gratitude is a tool you can use throughout the year to build resilience and tackle the challenges in front of you. A gratitude practice has mental and physical health benefits and improves your quality of life. There are also numerous benefits from an organizational perspective, including improved productivity, trust, connection, and engagement.

Here are some tips for cultivating peace and gratitude this Thanksgiving.

Slow down and breathe.  

The stress and anxiety of this year have been overwhelming. For Thanksgiving this year, slow down and keep things simple. Breathe in the air of the crisp November morning and the smell of turkey in the oven. Notice the sounds of your children in the other room. The emails can wait. The Slack messages will be there Monday morning. Turn work off for a few days.

Express positivity.  

Even during the most challenging times, there is a silver lining to be found – whether in a steaming cup of coffee or an exciting new project. At team meetings or even the dinner table, say, "Tell me something good." This simple phrase sets a positive tone and builds trust and belonging.

Be present.  

How often are you in a work meeting thinking about your family? And when you are with your family, are you thinking about the latest work crisis? I challenge you to learn to be present during this Thanksgiving season.

How are you?  

As you meet with your colleagues, family, and friends, the question "How are you?" should not be rushed with the expectation of a brief answer. When you ask someone, "How are you?", quiet your mind, look them in the eye, and ask with a sense of gratitude and empathy. Giving someone your attention and presence allows them to feel seen and heard.

Give back. 

Recent events, in some way, have impacted everyone. Some families have been affected more than others. Consider giving back to others during this Thanksgiving season. For example:

  • Shop for groceries for a vulnerable neighbor.
  • Donate to a local food bank.
  • Send a thank you note to someone who has impacted you this year. It could make their entire day.
  • Volunteer at a local charity.

Even at work, you can give back:

  • Help an overloaded colleague with some of their work.
  • Send a stressed colleague a delivered lunch.
  • Express appreciation and recognition to a colleague for how they supported you this year.
  • As a team, do a remote charity activity together, such as creating gift boxes or writing cards to troops overseas.

Host a virtual team-building event.

Even in a virtual environment, this is the perfect time to organize activities to lift the team's morale and spirit.  

For example, you could host a remote dinner. The meal does not need to be Thanksgiving-specific; the important part is to gather your employees and spend quality time together. Make sure it's not about work, but about connection. Between bites of the meal, consider having some Thanksgiving-related questions such as:

  • What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
  • What was your worst Thanksgiving?
  • If you could eliminate one Thanksgiving dish, which would it be?

Choose kindness over judgment.

Many people are feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. If someone is late with a deliverable or seems a bit grumpy, reach out with kindness. Ask them how you can support them. Instead of getting frustrated or angry, express empathy and support.

"Gratitude is the ultimate touchpoint of human existence … and the ultimate performance-enhancing substance," observed Dr. Robert A. Emmons. When we give thanks for everyday things, we are reminded of the good in life. Research tells us when we express gratitude, even during challenging times, we train our brains to see the good, even amid so many challenges.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Workhuman. May you find peace and joy in the simple moments this holiday season.

About the Author

Lynne Levy

Lynne Levy is a Workhuman evangelist who lives and breathes helping organizations build cultures that bring out the best in the employees. Her mantra is “do what you love, love what you do.”

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