Thanksgiving is to turkey as… Thanksgiving is to gratitude. See what I did there? The turkey, or may I rephrase that as THE TURKEY, is not (as most of the country seems to believe,) the sole reason why we get together with family and friends and enjoy a (hopefully!) civil meal. Sure it’s nice to sit around and discuss which exotic stuffing and cranberry sauce merited a place at the table this year; however, it runs way deeper than that. Thanksgiving is primarily about gratitude, and we join our family and closest friends on this day so that we can physically experience the gratitude. Saying ‘thank you, god’ for my family, my friends, my home, etc., takes on a different dimension when you can actually see all those things in front of you. It makes it raw, tangible, and emotional.
It’s hard to be thankful all the time, though; life doesn’t always go as planned, problems crop up here and there, and let’s face it- the world is a far from perfect place. Nurses in particular are in a unique situation. On the one hand they witness miracles, but on the other hand they oftentimes witness people’s lives completely fall apart. Being on a constant roller coaster of this sort can really shake a person’s core. It can make you feel fragile and vulnerable, and instead of thankful for what you have going for you, it can cause you to feel downright scared! There’s a way to come off this roller coaster feeling exhilarated, though, and that’s by adopting a constant attitude of gratitude. This is the only way to remain upbeat and grateful despite what’s going on around you. Nurses, pay attention! Here’s how it’s going to work…
They say, ‘smile, and the world smiles with you.’ Well guess what?? Whine, and the world whines with you too. No one has a perfect life, EVEN IF IT MAY APPEAR SO FROM THE OUTSIDE! No one has a perfect job environment, EVEN IF IT MAY APPEAR SO FROM THE OUTSIDE! But what everyone does have is the ability to control themselves. Not what’s going on around them; but themselves. Instead of complaining about this, that and the other, commit to thinking and speaking positively. You’re entitled to vent for a moment or two, but then you must accept. This will allow you to really introspect, grow from the situation and to realize that it could have been worse.
Keep a Journal
Not just any journal, but a gratitude journal. Every night before you go to bed, jot down three things you are grateful for today. As a nurse who sees the fragility of life this shouldn’t be hard to do. And feel free to write anything. The small things in life are also things we ought to be grateful for. So whether you’re thankful for your ride to work every morning so that you don’t have to rely on mass transit, or you’re grateful for something major, such as landing your dream job, be sure to write about it. You’ll see; you will instantly become more aware of your surroundings and the blessings in your life.
Now that you’ve committed to keeping a journal, you’ll find that you’re actively looking for things to be grateful for. And surprise, surprise, you most probably will find that there is more positivity in your life than you originally thought. This in turn will lead to an increased show of appreciation on your apart, which, I promise you, will not only impact the lives of others, but your life as well. Grateful for that coworker that always has your back no matter what? Tell her! By either saying it straight out, gifting her with something you know she loves, or by sending her an email or card. It may be just the thing she needs to hear to get through a particularly rough patch. And you’ll feel like a million dollars, guaranteed! When there’s a culture of appreciation in the workplace in particular, everyone benefits.
Visit a Patient
When you’re down and out and simply not able to see the good you have going for you, pick yourself up and visit an ill patient. It’s a great way to put things in perspective and to truly be thankful for what you do have. Even if it’s just your health! You will have made someone’s day and lifted your own spirits as well.
In short, Thanksgiving affords us mortals the opportunity to take a step back, to pause the movie we call Life, and to give thanks for all the good in our lives. And the only way to carry the message of Thanksgiving throughout the rest of the year, is by adopting this crucial attitude of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!