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How to feel more thankful on Thanksgiving with 4 practices.

Despite Thanksgiving’s cheery, optimistic moniker (which suggests it oughta revolve around thanks and giving), the holiday of food and family often turns into a panic attack waiting to happen.

Whether it’s the massive job of cooking dinner for 25 people, or the loneliness that stems from having nowhere to spend the holiday, there are a whole host of factors that can leave you feeling less than thankful. And sometimes, close proximity to family members can create more crippling anxiety than warm, fuzzy memories.

To address this all-too-common problem, I want to suggest some practices for Thanksgiving Day; practices designed to foster gratitude amongst everyone around the table (even if everyone is just you). Because gratitude feels even better than a food coma.

Here’s how to feel more thankful on Thanksgiving, in four fun and easy practices:

Practice 1: Gratitude Notes
If you’ve got a full house for Thanksgiving, it’s likely you have at least one or two relatives with the annoying ability to push your proverbial buttons. And clearly you’re not the only one. What better way to celebrate the holiday than giving thanks for the people we love, even those who irk us? Ahead of the big day, randomly assign each attendee another family member. Then, ask each to write a note outlining what they appreciate about the person they’ve been assigned (like Secret Santa for gratefulness). Encourage heartfelt gratitude and gushing. Put them with each place setting and read them before dinner. Expect some teary eyes.

Practice 2: Gratitude Chain
Lots of folks do the whole say-one-thing-you’re-grateful-for deal at dinner, but a Gratitude Chain takes it a step further. Start with the first person, and do a rapid-fire round of giving thanks. Each person says one thing they’re thankful for from the previous year, then the next person, then the next person, and it keeps going, quickly! Set a kitchen timer for at least 5 minutes and let the gratitude flow like so much gravy.

Practice 3: Gratitude Stories.
This practice brings gratitude to life. Basically, everyone takes turns telling a story about the most amazing thing another person ever did for them. Each person should tell it with emotion and detail, elaborating on the way it made them feel and how it changed their life. This way, every participant gets to relive that feeling of appreciation all over again. Plus, all the guests get to come away from dinner reminded how fantastic their fellow humans can be.

Practice 4: Gratitude Board
This one could stay up throughout the holiday season, or all year, for that matter! Put up a corkboard in your kitchen or living room, and encourage your family members to post a note every time they feel grateful or appreciative for anything. Ask all your Thanksgiving guests to do the same. The board should fill up pretty quickly, and serve as a tangible reminder of all the blessings we tend to take for granted.

Any other ideas for unique gratitude practices to encourage THANKS and GIVING at Thanksgiving? 😉 Share ’em in the comments!

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