Over the summer, I started a little project called a “gratitude journal.” Every night before bed, I write down the date in the journal, followed by the words “Today I am grateful for … ” and a brief description of one of my blessings from that day.
Some days I write simple things: “Today I am grateful for coffee shops,” or “Today I am grateful for an A on a test.” Other days my entries go a little deeper: “Today I am grateful for the compassion of my friends on a rough day,” or “Today I am grateful for a school that is there for its students in unthinkable situations.” The point of my gratitude journal isn’t to provide a detailed analysis of my day or a deep reflection on the world. In fact, the point of my gratitude journal is in the name itself – to remind myself that in each day, there is something I can be grateful for.
Even though I try to express gratitude every night through my journaling process, today provides a special opportunity to give thanks. It’s Thanksgiving Day, and through time with friends and family, we get to stop and reflect on the blessings in our lives. Although elaborate parades, fancy feasts and the rush to Christmas can shift our focus away from the ultimate goal of Thanksgiving, it’s important to take a moment to show our gratitude on a day designed specifically for that purpose.
What are you thankful for? It’s a question typically answered around the Thanksgiving table, though squirming children and full mouths often prevent it from receiving the attention it deserves. So, right now, as you’re reading this, I encourage you to really think about this question: What are you thankful for?
Some answers probably came to your mind right away – your family, your friends, your church, etc. Now, I want to challenge you to go a step further. Why are you thankful for those things? Is it because your best friend treats you to coffee when you’re having a stressful week? Is it because your church has given you opportunities to help others and form meaningful relationships? It’s good to simply be grateful for things, but when you consider why you’re grateful, it increases your appreciation and awareness of the smaller blessings existing within the big ones.
Now I encourage you to take the final – and most important – step: If there are people in your life that you wouldn’t survive without, establishments that mean a lot to you or anything else that makes your world a better place, tell them. When walking into your mom’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, give her a hug and tell her she is valued. When picking up your morning cup of coffee from a local Starbucks, tell the barista how much you appreciate his or her service. When texting a friend about your plans over break, mention that you love spending time with them. By tangibly expressing our gratitude, we spread some positivity to those who may desperately need it, and they may be inspired to go out and do the same.
So before heading off to snag some Black Friday deals, take a moment to consider what you’re grateful for and then share it. I think you’ll be amazed at all the happiness it can create. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to create a gratitude journal of your own and discover a thankfulness that lasts beyond Thanksgiving Day.
Emma Chrusciel is a senior at Geneva High School. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.