5 Ways to Show Gratitude During a Difficult Year

Everyone we know has been impacted in some way by the woes of 2020. Though it’s an easy time to get caught up wishing the remainder of the year away, it’s important to reflect on everything positive that surrounds us and all the good that happened even during a devastating year. This Thanksgiving is sure to look different than Thanksgivings past, but despite the hardship, try your best to focus on what (and who) you have in your life to be grateful for. Here are some ways you can show that gratitude and make the most of this season.

1. Send a text message or a handwritten note. We can’t all be together this holiday season like we may be used to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still show someone we care. Think of those who have helped make the most of the year despite the challenges and let them know you’re grateful for them. Maybe it’s your trainer, who has had to pivot due to a lack of horse shows this year. It may be the groom at your barn who has had to take on more responsibility due to those who can’t be at the barn taking care of their horses as often. Think, also, of your relatives or family friends who may have to spend the holidays alone because they are prioritizing their own and everyone else’s safety. A phone call or Zoom would be even better for those who you really want to connect with this holiday. Let them know you’re thinking of them and make them feel appreciated, even from a distance.

2. Donate to a cause you care about. So many people (and animals) are experiencing harder times than we are at the moment, so there has never been a better time to support those in need. Choose a cause you’re particularly passionate about, or a cause with which you feel you could really have an impact, and make a donation. It doesn’t have to be monetary; even donating your time is helpful, as long as it’s safe to do so. Donating to those in need helps us recognize how fortunate we truly are and always helps those who need the support in a difficult time.

3. Write down what you’re grateful for. This seems trivial, but studies show that writing down a few things you’re grateful for, for your eyes only, can lead you to more happiness and appreciation for the things around you. It takes only a minute each day to jot down between one and five things in your life you appreciate. It can be in a small journal or just on a notepad. Looking back over the things you wrote down after the end of a month or year can be an excellent reminder of all the good that happened.

4. Surprise someone with kindness. This doesn’t require a grand gesture; even just helping with simple chores that would alleviate someone else’s load is plenty. Leaving flowers at your loved one’s doorstep, cooking food for someone with a busy schedule, or grocery shopping for an elderly relative or neighbor would mean so much to the recipient and would not take much on your part to accomplish. Try to think of what those around you truly need right now, and how you can be of the most help, without being overbearing.

5. Smile (through your mask) and say thank you. Though our interactions with others are limited at the moment, it never hurts to make the most of every human encounter by being polite and making another person feel appreciated. Maybe you’re at a horse show and have to make a request at the in-gate. Do so with a smile (people can still tell you’re smiling through a mask) and always say thank you, regardless of the answer. Thank anyone who works at the facility, and definitely thank your trainer, groom, vet, and anyone else who may interact with you and your horse at the show or the barn. Smile and thank every cashier, every Uber driver, and anyone who holds a door for you. A small thank-you can go such a long way.

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