• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Thanksgiving as a tool for an easier life

Thanksgiving as a tool for an easier life

Nkechi let out a long exasperated but muted hiss; she just couldn’t understand what this prayer was all about, like who prays for Ribena, biscuits, the flowers, the pencils and the new water bottle that mummy just bought. She just wanted all of this to end so that she could go back to her retail store.

The only reason she was here was that she had promised her bestie, Bisi to stand in for her during her daughter Amoke’s birthday celebration which had coincided with an international conference where Bisi was the keynote speaker. Amoke who just turned the ‘Big 5’ years had requested that she be allowed to celebrate in school with her friends and had themed her birthday ‘Gratitude Party’.

Hmmmmm. Gratitude indeed! The girl was just a child and would soon grow out of that foolishness. Life was too hard to find anything to be consistently grateful about and honestly, she really felt sorry for the exuberantly happy little children. Who would tell them that adulting is hard? Since she had promised her friend to stay, she decided to listen to their silly childhood talk.

“I’m grateful that I can pee-pee every day and flush the toilet without any assistance. I’m also very happy that I no longer pee on the bed at night.”
“I’m grateful my daddy has started coming home early and spending time with me. He even helps me with my homework and does not shout on me anymore.”

“I’m grateful that I wanted a yellow pencil with a shimmery body and a pink eraser and my mummy bought them for me yesterday. That was the best day of my life and my mummy is the best mummy in the whole wide world.’’
One after the other, each child stated what they were grateful for and each statement was followed by loud cheering, jumping and hugs freely shared amongst themselves. The scene was reminiscent of a company end of year party after a particularly successful financial year where large bonuses had been announced.

Why were these small inconsequential things making these children so happy?

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One of the traps of adulthood is the “is-it-only-this-small-thing”attitude, which is the tendency to minimise small achievements and dampen the enthusiasm that comes with so-called small wins. We tend to anchor our happiness to big events like weddings, promotions, winning major contracts, finishing our new homes, going overseas for vacations and so on. Because our minds have associated happiness with these big wins, we have unconsciously become unaware of the little miracles we are blessed with every day and instead, complain about all the things that are not going well.

These little miracles are the ones that children tend to notice and get ecstatic about, until the adults around them start telling them about how when they grow up they will see how hard the world and ‘adulting’ are.
What if adults became very aware of and intentional about noticing every single good thing or act that happened to them on a daily basis and gave thanks for them? This is the basis of thanksliving or gratitude and can makes ‘adulting’ easier in so many ways.

It is a mood-booster because the act of gratitude usually helps us to remember more things to be grateful about, leading to increased feelings of happiness and reduced negative emotions such as anger, aggression and resentment. When we are in a grateful state, our self-esteem increases, we are more pleasant and easy to get along with and this makes it possible for us to network and build new relationships while maintaining cordiality in older relationships.
Thanksliving also reduces stress, improves our sleep and overall health, makes hard tasks easier, increases resilience and causes our focus to stay on the things we have (contentment).

You can start practicing gratitude right away. Begin to be thankful for the things you can see, taste, hear, smell and feel, for the people in your space, for the way your body functions. Intentionally look for ‘small’ acts of goodness to be thankful for daily. The more you practice this, the easier ‘adulting’ becomes.
Here’s to a life of thanksliving. And THANK YOU for reading this.