Whatever is going on in your life currently, the following exercise is a lovely way to reflect on your year!
We are near the end of the year and preparing for the holidays with family and friends. It is a time for giving, sharing time together and attending social events. But there are some of us that struggle at this time of year. No matter, how hard your year may have been, there are always good things - blessings you’ve had throughout the year.
When we remind ourselves of all the things that we are grateful for, they help create positive neurons in our brain. The phrase “Neurons that fire together, wire together” was phrased by Canadian neuropsychologist, Donal Hebb in 1949. It means that every thought, feeling, physical experience we have forms a neural network. When we repeat certain thoughts, tasks over and over, the brain learns this new way as being the new normal. The more we are grateful, the more ingrained this practice becomes and the easier it is for our brains to automatically process gratitude.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” - Melody Beattie
What if Thanksgiving wasn’t one day in the year?
Use an old jam (jelly) jar or mason jar with a bunch of coloured sticky notes. Sit down in the evening for 5-10 minutes each night for the next few weeks and look back over this past year and write down the things that you are grateful for that you experienced during the year. It doesn’t take long. This is a fun project to share with your kids and loved ones. I have done this with my family and we have used Thanksgiving Day to open our jars and read several of them out loud to everyone at the dinner table. This jar of gratitude notes can be opened on New Year’s Eve or even on New Year’s Day before the beginning of a New Year! You will be amazed at how quickly you will fill up your jar. They are also a wonderful keepsake to have to look at years from now as reminders of all the many small things that make your life a blessing.
My youngest daughter used this idea to give as a gift to her best friend when they were 10 years old. Instead of what my daughter was grateful for during the year, she wrote on the sticky notes, all the things she was grateful for in her best friend. All her great qualities and how she valued their friendship. She gave it to her friend on her birthday. I also received one on my birthday from my daughter and it is very special to me. There is nothing like getting a jar full of positive statements of love about you to cheer you up! This can be done for your partner or spouse too to show them you appreciate them and love them.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all this week!
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