It might feel very difficult to tune into your inner “thankfulness feelings” this week.
2020 was hard and scary and it's not going to win a "best year award." Many of you lost jobs, lost loved ones, laid awake all night worried for vulnerable family members, had to work harder so you could provide paychecks to your employees, many lost their dream job, and all of us had to rearrange our entire lives as we lived isolated from the world.
Mary's Pregnancy Resource Center watched as clients poured in this year with many of the same struggles. We are thankful we could help over 5,500 women find hope and resources since the start of COVID! We are thankful for each of our donors, volunteers, founders, and staff who worked tirelessly to keep our center open so women could continue to receive care and our employees could provide income for their families. If you are struggling this holiday season and overwhelmed, we want to encourage you to reflect on 2020 and dig deep for the moments that brought you joy and gratitude. Thankfulness is a powerful tool to heal and draw in perspective.
As we face the holiday season that requires us to reflect on the "good things" of the past year, it’s essential for our mental and psychological health to take some time this week and give thanks.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – Proverb
According to the Positive Psychology website, “Positive psychology and mental health researchers in the past few decades have established an overwhelming connection between gratitude and good health. Keeping a gratitude journal causes less stress, improves the quality of sleep, and builds emotional awareness. Gratitude is positively correlated to more vitality, energy, and enthusiasm to work harder.” In other words, focusing on gratitude is a human power we have to cope with adversity.
Even the Bible agrees:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
Thankfulness is actually a recipe for inner happiness and peace (who needs a bit of that this year?!) Whenever you shift your mind from the negative to thankfulness, you experience peace from Heaven that even you can’t explain because it’s all-consuming.
If you are struggling to find those moments, take inspiration from these 6 things we can all be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!
Families Spent Time Together
In the first few weeks of lockdowns, Walmart had to restock the board game aisle, something that probably doesn't get restocked very often in the age of Xbox and Play Station. Families stuck indoors together were playing together, maybe for the first time in years! Fathers, who were now working from home or temporarily jobless, were seen at playgrounds and in the neighborhoods taking their children for bike rides.
In many American homes, life is too busy for collective family dinners and quality family time. But thanks to COVID, families were forced into old-fashioned bonding experiences like walks, bike rides, meals together, conversations, and board games. Science shows us that children who have fathers or father figures involved in their lives are less likely to have sex at a young age, less likely to drop out of school, and less likely to go to jail in the future. As insignificant and chaotic as home life and “togetherness” might seem, child performance might actually be a huge, positive impact from this crazy year!
Almost every society has a 1-2 hour “siesta” during their workday. Some European companies have mandatory vacation time employees must take. But the average Ameican takes a proper vacation every 5 years! It’s an understatement to say we are an overworked society.
Children, too, are expected to perform in school in highly stressful and highly organized environments, almost as if they are mini-college students. On top of career stress, working mothers experience mom guilt as they balance their family and home life. Women feel higher levels of stress and anxiety than men do, and yet we medicate the symptoms or ignore them instead of taking an old-fashioned rest.
But when the world stopped in 2020, everyone found themselves forced into downtime. At first, it felt stressful, but looking back, there were many blessings and moments to be thankful for as we rested. Families were no longer expected to perform at highly organized rates. Mothers and fathers had family meals with their children and spent time playing games, getting home improvement “to do’s” done, naps, homework together, and had the time to chill with each other.
Coming out of 2020 will we have a more well-rested society?
This Thanksgiving, take time to look back on the really important and meaningful moments you had during your 2020 stay-cation.
“Enjoy the little things. For one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault
If you are reading this, you probably didn’t die from the virus. Even if you caught it, you can feel thankfulness in the fact you are a survivor and have many new and exciting experiences ahead. Good health is more meaningful when we overcome a sickness because we realize how deeply we take it for granted.
The Ability to Learn Something New
Did you play a new board game with your family this year? Did you learn how to make a zoom call? Did you learn how to cook something new or fix something in your house? What a gift it is to learn something new!
As I mentioned above, downtime allowed for so many good things to happen inside our homes this year. One one of these good things was reconnecting (virtually) with friends and family we didn’t have time to call before. New and rekindled friendships are something to be thankful for this year as they bring immense value to our lives!
In the wake of the sadness of struggles, we still have the opportunity to celebrate LIFE and make new memories this holiday season with co-workers, friends, and family! We have the chance to return to our family traditions and revisit old memories. Without these holidays to remind us what we are thankful for, where we have come from, and what we have gotten through, and remind us where we are going, life would be boring, hard, and magic-less.
As you spend time baking and making plans for your Holiday, remember that tough years and long seasons don’t last forever. We can be thankful that they don’t and that we can look forward to newer and brighter things to come!
Tell us in the comments what you are the most thankful for this year!