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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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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

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