December is always a month of reflection for me — and man, is there a lot to reflect on this year!
After the crazy year we’ve had (and with at least several more months of restrictions and staying-at-home stretching out before us), it’s hard not to just write 2020 off and say it was the WORST.
But that’s not the kind of guy I am. 😉
My goal for this month is to reflect on this year like I would any other year, looking for the lessons in the challenges, the hidden blessings, the big wins, and every single thing (big or small) that I have to be thankful for.
My yearly reflection actually started a little early this year, as I spent the week leading up to Thanksgiving remembering my Thanksgivings as a kid — and my dad’s intentional approach of teaching my siblings and I about thankfulness.
Every Thanksgiving morning throughout my childhood, my father would take us to a homeless shelter or food bank to help feed the hungry. Although we didn’t have a lot, my dad always wanted us to understand that we still had a great deal to be thankful for.
Volunteering and helping out in our community was a consistent practice with my parents, and it didn’t stop on Thanksgiving Day. Each Thanksgiving, we’d start the day off helping people outside of our family, then come home to finish off the day together, digging in to the amazing Thanksgiving dinner my mom had cooked up.
My mom is a great cook and she made all the good stuff: turkey, mac & cheese, greens, dressing, cranberry, desserts, and — my favorite — fruit-filled jello. We ate until it hurt! Yet every Thanksgiving night, when I was going back for seconds and thirds, I always remembered the families we’d served that morning, who were so happy just to have one small serving of food. It certainly made me feel thankful, and gave me perspective on just how fortunate I was.
My dad’s approach to thankfulness seems particularly poignant this year, and I’m trying to apply it as I reflect on 2020 as a whole. While the year may have started off like any other, the last eight months has certainly been filled with loss, uncertainty, toil and struggle.
However, as we keep plugging along for the still unforeseeable future, it’s important that we pause to reflect on all that has gone right, all the blessings we’ve seen, and all the things we have to be thankful for.
Even in unbelievably challenging times such as these, I’m sure you’ve still been able to accomplish a great deal this year. Your accomplishments might not have been the ones you started out to achieve, but they’re great accomplishments nonetheless. They may have even been surprises you never thought to write down as goals!
So, if you’d like to join me in reflecting on this year, shine a light on every area of your life and look for the blessings.
Did you reconnect with old friends this year?
Did you get to know family members more deeply because Zoom chats gave you more time to actually talk?
Did you pick up a new hobby that’s added fun or value to your life?
Did you grow new skills at work, simply because you had to?
Did you have more time to yourself to just be you and think?
Whatever area or areas of your life have been impacted this year, I’m sure there have been blessings, probably a lot.
Challenge yourself to not only recognize them, but celebrate them.
If nothing else, remember that you made it — that despite this challenging year you’re still here trying, adapting, and making it work.
That “just keep going” attitude is a HUGE blessing in itself. It’s called RESILIENCE and it’s a trait that will serve you well not just in the middle of a global pandemic, but any time you face a challenge for the rest of your life.
I firmly believe that when you take the time to reflect on this year and pinpoint all the things you have to be thankful for, you’ll see that there really are a lot.
Keep your mind squarely on them as we wrap this year and head into a new one. When you do, you just may realize that, even in the worst of times, there are blessings all around us…and that the quality of our days — and our lives — improve dramatically when you anticipate them, expect them, and see them as they happen.
Happy Holidays to you.