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Being Thankful in the Chaos

Thanksgiving. That time of the year between Halloween and Christmas that can often get forgotten in the rush to buy Christmas gifts on Black Friday. But Thanksgiving is important– especially for Christians.

Christ calls us to live in a state of thanksgiving, not just on the holiday, but it is nice to have a specific day to be grateful for all the good things in our lives. College students will roll their eyes and think ‘but you don’t know how many papers I have due right now,’ to which I say, yes. Yes, I do know, because I do too. But we can still be grateful in the midst of finals season. Yes, even at Eastern.

There are many things for us at Eastern to be thankful for. For example, even though we may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work we have to do, in my experience, most of the professors here are incredibly understanding and willing to work with us. Yes, there may be that *one* professor you don’t get along with, but most of them here truly care about their students and how to best help them succeed. I know I’ve had professors do unexpected and incredibly thoughtful things for me when I thought I was at the end of my rope.

You wouldn’t get that kind of amazing care from a Big University professor. There are many other things to be thankful for here at Eastern, but it should be a uniquely personal list for each person. But you’ll never be able to see them if you’re not practicing having an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ as my father would say.

But I get it: living in gratitude can be hard. Life is tough and there are many real trials we face in life from relational, to physical, to mental. I know for me personally, my mental health can make it incredibly difficult to be grateful sometimes. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

One easy way to practice thankfulness more is to keep a gratitude list. You can keep a notebook on your desk, by your bed, in your backpack, wherever is most convenient for you, and write down one thing (or more) you are thankful for each day. To keep it creative, try to make it a different thing every day and don’t repeat anywhere on the list.

Another way to practice gratitude is to take a moment to just stop and appreciate whatever moment you’re in. Just five seconds to take a second and close your eyes and breathe. I personally like to practice this when I’m in a moment that I know I want to remember forever.

Actually, I like to combine the two elements above into what I call a Memory List. Anytime something happens that I want to specifically remember, I write it down in my notebook. These vary from simple and fun things like “musical theatre blasting amidst spoopy preparations” to more emotional things like “the love and loyalty of a true best friend who holds you up in the midst of the mess.”

For me, this helps me to practice gratitude even in situations where it doesn’t look like there would be anything to be thankful for. This holiday season, I challenge you to take your moment out of all the rush and busyness of advent and find at least one thing a day to be grateful for. I promise it’s worth it.

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