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Lifehack’s Guide to Gratitude, Giving Thanks, and Thanksgiving

Lifehack’s Guide to Gratitude, Giving Thanks, and Thanksgiving

Gratitude, Giving Thanks, and Thanksgiving

    It’s Thanksgiving time in the US, a time for reflection on the blessings that make our lives worth living. Over the years, Lifehack’s writers have has a lot to say on the topic of gratitude, giving thanks, and – of course – Thanksgiving.

    The Power of Giving Thanks

    Change the World, One Thank-You Note at a Time
    When Esquire writer Tom Chiarella decided to send handwritten thank you notes to friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who had touched his life in some way, he found a personal reward he wasn’t expecting: “I began to look at the day as a series of opportunities for thankfulness rather than obligations to a calendar.” Read Craig Child’s comments and then click through to the original Esquire story.

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    Power of Gratitude
    Vishal Rao sees gratitude as the key to keeping a positive outlook – and thus the force behind powerful change. “The power of gratitude works on the brain, he writes. “It helps release the negativity in our mind.”

    Universal Values to Be Grateful For
    We are nothing without the values we choose to live by, says Rosa Say. Expressing gratitude for the values that shape our relationships, or careers, and our lives is one step in “taking possession” of those values and making them a clear and conscious part of our approach to life.

    How to Be Happier with What You Have
    Does wanting more mean you have to be unhappy with what you have? Scott Young believes not, and shares tips to help us appreciate what we have while working for our dreams. Have a lot of interests, so a setback in any one won’t mean you lost everything; experiment with different ways of filling your time to find the way that works best for you; and don’t worry about living up to other people’s standards.

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    The Importance of Thank You
    Chris Brogan highlights the meaningfulness of expressing gratitude to the people who help you on your way. “Thank the people in your life who add value,” he writes, “and make sure you spread a little good karma that way. Be kind and generous in your thanks, and the results will almost always be favorable.” To make it easy, he offers a set of tips on giving thanks simply and effectively.

    A Powerful Thanksgiving

    Reap Joy from this Thanksgiving Holiday
    Another post on giving thanks from Rosa Say, who finds American Thanksgiving to resonate well with the Hawaiian concept of mahalo. Instead of decrying the artificialness of a day when we’re supposed to be thankful, Say embraces the forced gratitude of the day, sending notes and emails to friends around the world and thanking them for being part of her life. What a great (and yes, joyful) way to make a difference in the lives of the people you’re closest to – and your own.

    Thanksgiving and the Stories We Tell Ourselves
    My contribution to Lifehack’s pool of Thanksgiving-themed posts focuses less on thankfulness and more on what we can learn from how the Thanksgiving story – the Pilgrims, the Indians, the shared feast – defines us as a people. Stories, I argue, shape our lives in profound ways, even when they’re not true, or not true yet. Real change, then, might well start with changing the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and about the world we live in.

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    Thanksgiving How-To Guides
    A quickie post linking to Thanksgiving-themed how-to guides on eHow.

    TIme Management on the Turkey Day
    When we talk about Thanksgiving, we emphasize the relaxed day with our family, watching the football game or the Thanksgiving Day parade, and of course we pay homage to mom’s pumpkin pie or Aunt Louanna’s special stuffing. We tend to forget the tremendous tactical effort it takes to get all that food on the table at 4:00, hot and steaming. Leon Ho links to a post at FoodieView that offers a few tips for those facing the holiday from the kitchen counter.

    Top 10 Things to Do for Mom’s PC Over Thanksgiving
    For the techie among us, Thanksgiving is more than just a day for sharing good food and good times with your family – it’s also the day we will be called upon to service our parent’s computers. Leon’s post links to a list of good ideas for souping up Mom’s (or Dad’s, or grandma’s, or whomever’s) while you’re home for the holidays.

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    Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, and to everyone else, thanks for reading. I hope you find a moment or two to be thankful on this and every day.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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