This season of giving thanks offers many possibilities for gratitude and giving back. And get this: as you are helping others, you are also helping yourself. Studies show that actively participating in giving thanks is a great way to boost your physical health and emotional wellbeing. While employing traditional ways of giving thanks is a wonderful way to celebrate Thanksgiving, we’re thinking outside the box this year and sharing unconventional ways to give thanks this Thanksgiving.
Honor Unsung Heroes: Heroes in your community deserve praise. But the same popular heroes often get all the accolades, while others don’t get any attention at all. Take some time to think about the people who make a difference in your day. Perhaps it is the crossing guard at your children’s school that ensures your kids safely cross the street every day. Maybe it is your mail carrier that brings your mail directly to your door when you receive large packages. Or it could be the bagger at your supermarket who always does his job with a cheery smile and offers to help you take your groceries to your car. Take the time to call these people out and thank them for their contributions to your community and your life personally.
Buy Goods from Local Small Businesses: Buying locally keeps financial and intellectual resources and services thriving in your community. Yes, sometimes local vendors charge a little more because they are not mass producing and selling goods, but those few extra dollars make the difference between their success and failure. Holding fast to a sense of community by supporting local businesses is a true way to show your gratitude for those who work hard to keep your community prosperous.
Show the Face of Thankfulness to the Troops: Sending letters or care packages to the troops is a terrific way to express thankfulness for those who help maintain our freedom. But take it a step further this year and put a face behind the thankfulness. Take pictures of your family, friends and others in your community holding up signs of thanks and include them in your mailings to the troops. Seeing the faces of those they are protecting and having a visual of their gratefulness goes a long way in showing appreciation. This year, go beyond the letter writing campaign and include a photography campaign as well.
Anonymously Praise Others to their Superiors: During the season of thanksgiving, spread anonymous praise. When your server at a restaurant or a customer service representative go above and beyond their job to make your experience great, tell a manager or write a note of praise to their corporate office. All too often we are quick to complain, but during this season, be faster to praise others. Even without knowing who you are, you will instill pride, accomplishment and happiness in someone who brought something good to your life.
Perform Spontaneous Acts of Thankfulness: Be a superhero and swoop in with spontaneous good deeds for others. Pay for the coffee of someone behind you in line at the coffee shop. Rake your neighbor’s leaves when you’re doing your own yard anyways. Buy dessert (or a glass of wine) for a mother you see struggling with her kids at a restaurant. Every time you buy a small toy for your kids, buy a second to donate. These little moments that require little effort on your part will mean so much to someone else. And the best part is that once you share thankfulness and acts of gratitude, others will be included to pay it forward.
Adopt or Foster a Rescue Pet: Fostering or adopting pets are a great way to contribute to your community. Rather than purchasing a pet from a pet store, check with your local animal shelters to see what their needs may be. Adoption is a great option if your family is looking to take in a pet. Otherwise, try fostering a newly rescued pet that need extra love and care as it is nursed back to health. Also, volunteering at a shelter or collecting supplies to take care of the animals is a terrific way to contribute.
Write a Letter and Mail It: For friends and family, write personal letters and mail them. In the age of emails, texts and social media, it is rare to get a heartfelt letter from those you love. Let others know how thankful you are for them by writing it down and sending them a letter of gratitude. Not only will your words mean so much, the method of delivery will make you message stick with them much longer.
Invite an Unexpected Guest to your Thanksgiving Meal: Joyous times are meant to be shared. We usually share major holidays with our closest family and friends. This year, consider inviting someone who isn’t able to be with their nearest and dearest. Perhaps it’s a college student or co-worker who can’t make it home for Thanksgiving, or your widowed neighbor who would otherwise be alone. Spread your family’s holiday festivities to those who could use a dose of togetherness this holiday season.
We wish you a warm and happy Thanksgiving!
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