“The month of November makes me feel that life is passing more quickly. In an effort to slow it down, I try to fill the hours more meaningfully.” ~ Henry Rollins
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~ A.A. Milne in Winnie-the-Pooh
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” ~ John Milton
November is our national month of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is such a lovely name, it sounds so warm and encouraging. Unfortunately for most of us when the turkey has been reheated for the final time and the last guest has left that’s not the feeling that comes to mind. Have you found this to be true for you?
As wonderful as the holiday sounds it’s full of stress, expectations, and unpleasant family dynamics. You cook for days and the meal last for an hour. Everyone rushes in to be together only to slip into old patterns and fights occur. Every year you resolve to do better, take it easy, put on a happy face only to see your resolve crumble after the hundredth snarky comment from your mother-in-law.
Hey I’ve been there. I know what you’re dealing with! So this year I thought I’d give you a treat; a new approach for Thanksgiving that focuses on gratitude and appreciation. This approach is designed to fill up your bucket, bolster your reserves, and change your focus so when the big day comes you go into it from a new place.
This year please join me in the November Gratitude Contest. This game starts now – as soon as you read this then it’s time for you to begin. The game is simple – it’s like a scavenger hunt only instead of clues you are searching for ways to spread gratitude and appreciation.
Here are five guidelines to help you succeed.
- Give Someone an Unexpected Complement
I started with the easiest first because this little appreciation can be extended to anyone. Try it at the checkout counter. Say thanks to your mail carrier or your barista. But be as specific as possible; hearing “Good job” is less rewarding as, “Every time I come in here your smile makes my day”.
If you feel a bit awkward, I promise after the first or second time you will be looking for people to complement. There is a wonderful energy exchange when you put this into play. Try it for yourself and see what I mean. You will be the one filled up with appreciation.
- Make a Genuine Offer of Help
Another way to show appreciation is to help someone out. By reaching out you are connection appreciation and action. Everyone needs help but we are not trained to ask for it or receive it well. So the important part of this piece of the game is to ask in a specific way. “Can I help?” or “Let me know if there is anything I can do” does not count. The other person is programed to say, “No thanks, I’ve got it”. After all, that’s what you’d say, right?
So find a specific request you can make. Something like, “Can I carry those bags for you?” or “ I know you are working on that volunteer project, can I help stuff food bags this Saturday?” is specific and much more likely to get a “Thanks, I’d appreciate your help”.
- Express Your Admiration
Congratulate someone on their success. If you’ve read a book you really like, tell the author. If you read in the paper that someone got an award or started a company, send a note saying you admire their accomplishment.
Make this a way to surprise someone with 100% appreciation, nothing more. And give yourself a bonus if you can include how whatever it is has affected your life. Again, the more specific you can be the stronger the reward.
- Apologize to Someone You Hurt
Say what? Hey what just happened here? You had me until now. Is that what you’re thinking? Well hold on and let me explain. Regret is a universal blocker of gratitude and appreciation. Doesn’t matter what the regret is about or if it has anything to do with what’s going on in your life right now. So clean it up. Today would be good.
Just approach the person you let down and say you are sorry. Don’t justify or try to make them understand why you did what you did. Don’t let them know that by the way you think they are at fault too. Those things make lousy apologies.
Just say you are sorry, say why you are sorry, and take 100% of the responsibility.
Do you have a teenager? Here’s an apology that will shift regret; “I’m sorry I yelled at you for [fill in the blank], my intention is to treat you with respect and I totally blew it. Please forgive me”. Try this at home and see if it doesn’t also boost your work atmosphere. Everything is connected so get going and find someone you can say you are sorry to right away.
- Acknowledge Someone Who Believed in You
Seek out someone from your past and say thank you. Thank them for the impact they had on you. Did they see something in you that you didn’t see? Did they give you encouragement or a safe place to vent? Did they boost your self-esteem or help you through a rough patch? Then let them know! A good place to look is old teachers, coaches, bosses, and friends: basically anyone is fair game. Just reach out and express your gratitude. Send a note or make a call. If your old teacher has passed away, then if possible let their kids know what an impact their parent had on you. Believe me it matters. Your life will overflow with love, gratitude, and appreciation the more you give it away.
What’s a game without a prize? I’m glad you asked. I want to say thank you to you for reading my articles and give you a little incentive to get going on our game so I created a contest. Each section has a point value and it’s as follows:
Unexpected Compliments = 15 points
Offering Help = 25 points
Expressing Admiration = 20 points
Sincerely Apologizing = 30 points
Acknowledging Someone = 30 points
When you reach 100 points you can be entered into a drawing for a free session with me. Here’s how you enter; keep a scorecard and when you reach at least 100 points email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with November Gratitude Contest in the subject line. Include your name, phone number, and your scorecard details. If you’d like to include your experience with this game I’d love to hear it too. On December 1st, 2015 I will randomly draw from all the entries and notify the winner.
This prize is a bonus incentive. Just by playing the game you are a winner. Your November will be more amazing than you can imagine. Go ahead – give it a go and really experience Thanksgiving.