- Shilshole Bay Marina
Tis the day we traditionally reserve for eating too much, enduring annoying relatives (bonus points if you are the annoying relative – everyone should strive to take a turn at it!), and to take a break from the cultural norm of grousing about anything and everything.
It’s a healthy and life-affirming thing to do – taking stock of everything you’re grateful for. This needn’t be a smarmy exercise – and yes – I define having to go around the Thanksgiving table naming one thing you’re grateful for as ‘smarmy’. But that’s just me. Notably, my family tried it once and got right over it about the time the last person said, “I’m eternally grateful that this is nearly over and I’ll get to eat, soon.” Yeah. My family. We aren’t a sentimental bunch.
Regardless. Keeping a mental tally (or a list on paper) of what you count as a positive in your life does several things for you. It changes your brain chemistry – no – really. Just the act of changing how you think shifts how your brain functions. Listing out what you’re grateful for highlights the area of your life to nurture and expand on. The list is also useful for showing up what’s missing from your list. If “I’m grateful for my health” didn’t show up on your list is that something you can change?
I’ve always wondered if the US Thanksgiving fell when it did so that on some psychological level, we could all run this sort of ‘what am I grateful for’ life assessment just in time to make resolutions for the New Year. So you know the way to make changes, right? No sweeping, grandiose statements. No huge resolutions. All you need is one thing: The answer to the question ‘what’s the single smallest step I can take today?’ And then take that step. If you want improved health, maybe the answer is ‘a ten minute walk at lunch’, or ‘replacing the french fries that come with my burger with a salad’. The trick, of course, is that you have to ask yourself the question (and then act on the answer) every day.
So what am I thankful for? I get to live in a spectacular location – that photo above was taken on one of my morning walks. The boat where my family and I live isn’t in that photo, we’re another dock farther south, but that photo is what we see everyday. Okay. Everyday the sun is shining in Seattle – which – admittedly, isn’t happening right now. Still. We love living on our boat. And I’m grateful we get to do that and that my family is thriving there.
What’s missing? What do I have plans to change? My writing habits. I love writing. So why am I wasting my life energy doing anything and everything else? Oh, sure, cleaning, doing dishes and doing the grocery shopping are all vital activities and I’m happy I get to do them. I’m talking about frittering time away on the internet screwing around. So what’s the single smallest step I can take today to change my wordcount output? One page. 250 words per day. Not much. And eventually, I’ll increase that. But right now? It’s about establishing a healthy pattern. So that next year, I can say “I’m grateful for how my writing output has increased.