Wow, another Thanksgiving approaches, and I'm in awe as I look back with so much to be grateful for, even through some trying times.
Remember back in April, when I got bit by a spider, got an infection, and spent three days in the hospital? That was no fun. But my struggles didn't end when I left the hospital; I spent months continuing to battle MRSA through antibiotic after antibiotic. The mental toll and stress of the adverse reactions played more with me mentally than I could have ever imagined.
As I type, I'm recovering from COVID. Before the spider bite, I hadn't taken prescription drugs in years, and now when I did it wreaked havoc on me. Much stress crept up when the doctor told me I'd have to go on an antibiotic and steroid. I could not go through the terrible months of the unexpected, not knowing reactions, again.
And then I remembered a book, my friend Tim Douglas (I was on his podcast, check out the episode here), mentioned to me back in June. You Are the Placebo, by Dr. Joe Dispenza. The insight, research, and reactions we have to treatment fascinated me. I decided I would change my attitude towards the drugs that would make me well, as opposed to drudging up all the old memories and reactions I had in the previous months.
I'd take the pill, talk to myself about how it was helping me heal, and then give it no other thought. Just take it and go about my day, not worrying what reaction I may or may not have. Also, it helps not to Google side effects. That is terrible for your mental health.
Okay, so where am I going with all this? I guess to give you an insight into the craziness of this year and that, in the end, I have so much to be grateful for. Throughout these trying times, I still got up every day and practiced gratitude. I released not one, but two books, and I sold and bought a home, moved and unpacked, and am getting excited about a remodel.
Here is a conglomerate of these lessons of how you can embrace the week of Thanksgiving and use gratitude as a tool to help you through the good and bad.
1. Write down what you are thankful for. Keep a pen and journal handy for jotting down three to five things you are grateful for each day. When you have a bad day, pick up your journal to help you focus on the good. Check out Thank You Notes to God, it's a great journal I created you to start and continue this habit.
2. Focus on the now. Stop yourself from saying; I'll be grateful when (fill in the blank). Look at your surroundings, be in the moment, and find the good right where you are. What I've discovered is, when we get to the future, we'll have something else we'll be chasing. Stay in the now.
3. Slow down. Take time to pause throughout your day, have a stop and smell the roses moment, and be grateful for what you notice when you slow down. If this season has slowed you down, jot down what you've seen that maybe you didn't realize before. Be grateful for the new discoveries.
4. Lessons learned. Take note of lessons you learn during the upcoming holiday season that are teaching you about yourself. Write it down in your journal and be grateful to God for revealing your strengths or weaknesses you never knew you had.
5. Curb complaining. Complaining sucks the energy out of the people that surround us and us. We need all the positive energy in our life we can get. Learn to flip complaints to words of gratitude. When I got COVID, I was grateful I had a doctor willing to help, money to pay for prescriptions, a job that allowed me to work from home, and the ability to pause in the afternoon for a nap because I was tired and needed rest.
6. Let out your emotions. It's perfectly normal to be sad and angry. Write about the feelings you feel, and ask yourself, in the depth of these emotions, what is there to be grateful for? How can you turn your anger into action instead of letting it fester for no good?
7. Thank people. Along this journey, we cross paths with many people. Don't forget to say thank you. Tell each person that is helping you along the way how grateful you are for them. Bonus points if you write them a thank you note. Be specific in stating the ways they helped you.
This list isn't all-inclusive, and you don't have to do all of them every day. But as you go through your day, take time to pause and constantly ask yourself, what can I be grateful for at this moment. The more you practice gratitude, the more it will become a habit, and the longer it's a habit, you'll potentially experience a life-changing mindset shift.
May God pour out unexpected blessings during Thanksgiving week.
Stephanie L. Jones
Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of "The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life" and “The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life”