By: Greg Harms
At this time of year, it’s almost mandatory for therapists, life coaches, advice columnists, etc. to write a post extolling the virtues of giving thanks. As I sat down to write this post my first instinct was to fall in line and write about how this has been a great year with so much to give thanks for and encouraging all of you to do the same. There certainly are many benefits to cultivating a thankful attitude.
A simple daily gratitude exercise has been shown to help improve depression, anxiety, job stress, relationship problems, and even physical pain. It would make sense for me to list all the research studies that have supported these findings and encourage all of you to start doing daily gratitudes and even give you instructions for a particular gratitude exercise.
But, you’re smart enough that you can do a simple Google search and find way more information than I could pack into this one post. Why would I want to add to all that internet clutter?
This realization of common sense came to me almost immediately after thinking about writing a post on being thankful. With that realization, it was obvious that I did not need to simply fall in line and turn out another bland, if still helpful, post that mimics every other new post out there.
I was determined to do something original, something that would stand out, something that provides a value that no one else is providing. Taking Fleetwood Mack’s advice, I decided to go my own way. Making this decision is very freeing and one that everyone should make periodically.
While there is a lot of collective wisdom in our culture that we are all well advised to follow, many of our greatest achievements came from individuals who bucked the trend and struck out on their own.
Listening to their own instincts and following their own vision, these individuals may have hit some roadblocks along the way, but also found their way to finding a new world (Christopher Columbus), launching a new country (John Adams), keeping that country together (Abraham Lincoln), entertaining the world (Walt Disney), and giving us new ways to communicate (Steve Jobs).
While most of us will not be nearly as successful or famous as any of these individuals, we can all find ways to make a difference and gain increased self-esteem and satisfaction with our lives if we recognize our own gifts, talents, and values and use them to do something new every once in a while.
As you think about what you are thankful for over the next couple of weeks, take an extra minute or two to think about how you can build on those things and do something unique and special. Alternately, if there’s something that really gets in the way of you being thankful, put your own special skills to use to find a solution.
We all have a unique point of view, yet many of us are often hesitant to use it and act on it, depriving ourselves of the possibility of doing something special that we can take pride in. So, don’t follow the crowd all the time, take a chance every once in a while and you just might find even more to be thankful about by this time next year.