Why It’s Important To Be Intentional About Gratitude During the Holidays

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With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and pressure to find the perfect gift, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s truly important this time of year.

Some retailers, such as Walmart, rolled out Black Friday deals shortly after midnight on Thanksgiving morning. And according to the National Retail Federation, more than 154 million people shopped in stores or online this Black Friday and spent about $289 on average.

Plus, let’s not forget about the other retail holidays: Shop Small Saturday and Cyber Monday. This time of year we’re inundated with messages to spend, spend, spend. Buy this. Buy that. Go bigger, get better. Gifts for your friends, gifts for your family, gifts for your co-workers and your partner’s second cousin twice removed.

When is enough enough? Here’s how I’ve learned to become more grateful during the holidays.

Growing up, my grandmother had a magnet on her refrigerator around Christmastime that read: “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Not to get all holy on you, but it’s a saying that’s stuck with me throughout the years. More so, it’s the spirit of gratitude that’s left an impact on me.

Last year, while listening to the Joblogues podcast, Cortney, one of the hosts, talked about how keeping a gratitude journal helped her focus on the here and now. It was the second time I’d noticed a reference to a gratitude journal, so I decided it was time to take the plunge and I downloaded the Gratitude Journal App. Talk about a game-changer.

RELATED: 3 Ways Gratitude Can Promote Fresh Positivity In Your Life

Too often I get caught up in social media comparisons, career ambitions, and 30 Under 30 lists. I’m never satisfied with where I am and I’m constantly looking forward to the next stage in life. Raise your hand if you can relate, I’ll wait…

Taking regular stock of my many blessings helped me become “content with the space in the middle,” as Cortney described it. It helped me realize I have so much to be grateful for, so many of which are things I would normally take for granted, such as my family, my friends and my health.

When I noticed myself slipping into a funk in early November, I decided to embark on a personal 30-day gratitude challenge. Each day, I would write down at least three things I’m thankful for … and I’m not going to lie, the day after the election was HARD.

RELATED: Millennial Women Express Heartfelt Thank You To Hillary Clinton In Open Letter

But I forced myself to reflect on three things I’m grateful for, even though the election didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped:

1) …that I even have the right to vote at all

2)…that I live in the United States of America

3)… the freedom of speech to write about the election in the first place.

Choosing an attitude of gratitude is a small, simple way to gain perspective in a world that’s continuously telling us to do more, be more, and want more when the truth is you’re doing enough, you are enough and you have enough.

There are many ways you can apply gratitude to your everyday life. If writing in a gratitude journal (or app) isn’t your thing, you could try meditation, yoga, reading a devotional, volunteering or going for a run. The important thing is that you take the time to step back, reflect and give back amid all the hubbub of the holidays … and every day thereafter.

L'Oreal Thompson Payton

About L'Oreal Thompson Payton

A journalist turned nonprofit PR pro, L’Oreal Thompson Payton is also a blogger and freelance writer with a passion for empowering women. When she’s not busy writing, she can usually be found reading, dancing and eating her way through Chicago. Learn more about her at LTintheCity.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @LTintheCity.
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