(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)
There isn’t another holiday that is more about thinking of others than Thanksgiving – after all, giving thanks is in the name! And while this special day is an excellent reminder to consider the ways in which we are grateful, it is the perfect time to commit to a year of truly giving of oneself. This doesn’t mean spending money – and it doesn’t even mean spending a lot of time, it means consideration, thoughtfulness, kindness and gratefulness.
We’ve made it easy to remember a few ways you can dedicate your upcoming days to a life that cherishes others and gives them a reason to pass it on: GIVE.
Grateful – Are you familiar with the gratitude challenge? Although it often begins with just a few weeks of recognizing and naming the things that you are most grateful for, many folks have adopted this as an everyday practice. The theory is that if you stay focused on the things that you HAVE, rather than the things that you DON’T HAVE, there will be no room for wanting more and a whole lot more time spent telling people how much they mean to you. And we all know the world could use a little bit more love.
Intentional — All too often we spend our days on autopilot, allowing our daily routine to push us through the hours until we start all over again. What we don’t realize is that we are missing out on so many beautiful opportunities to truly enjoy the world around us. Not only does this mean taking in the sounds, sights and smells around us, but seeking out opportunities to be intentional in our actions. This includes delivering a meal to someone, giving “just one more” hug to the child who won’t go to bed, volunteering at the local shelter or just sending a card with encouraging words to someone who needs it. Being intentional simply means acting with purpose.
Voice — All around us, someone wishes they had a voice. A child being abused in the home, an elderly neighbor with no relatives, a disadvantaged teen whose parents work all hours to make ends meet. The list goes on and on. You may not realize it, but you can be the voice that person needs to make positive changes in their often scary world. Organizations like CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), NCOA (National Council on Aging) and LEAP Foundation DC work tirelessly to vocalize the needs of those who could use a hand, offering solutions that build the pathways to healthier, more positive futures. Volunteers and donations continue to help take the weight off of administrators – don’t hesitate to get involved.
Every day – don’t just adopt these practices on Thanksgiving or as part of a one-time challenge – make it a commitment to remain grateful, be intentional and lend your voice EVERY DAY. Along your journey, you’ll not only be giving smiles, encouragement, a hand, direction and a brighter future, you’ll no doubt discover a few things about yourself, as well! (Bonus – Studies have proven that grateful, intentional living leads to a better overall health, like less stress, decreased anxiety and depression, and lower blood pressure. It’s a win-win!)