Now that we are well into November and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I want to focus on gratitude and goals. We are going to start by looking at the things we already have that make our lives better. Sometimes we earn the things we are grateful for. Other times, we don’t seem to deserve them at all. Either way, it’s important that we recognize them and take stock of the blessings in your life. This exercise will lay the foundation for goal setting. We are going to focus on 3 areas of your life: relationships, career/finances, and who you are, as a person
Blessings in Your Relationships
Blessings of Family
Perhaps the thing most people value most is their family members. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Who you choose to include in your family circle goes far beyond blood relatives. Family fluctuates throughout your life. Marriages, adoptions, foster children, and births add to the number of people in your life. Friends can become as close as any blood relative. Death and divorce pull families apart, but memories remain. Even through the veil of painful separations such as these, we often have grown. Who in your life are you thankful for? Do you eat meals together or spend time together on a regular basis? Can you count on one another when the chips are down? What aspects of your family life do you treasure in your heart with love and gratitude? Count these blessings today and every day.
A Blessed Social Life
Having a blessed social life is having social interactions that you feel good about. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your calendar is full. For some people, a full calendar is exactly what they want. For others, a blessed social life is a couple of really good friends they can count on and who they spend time with once or twice a month. One hallmark of a healthy social life is that you feel good about who you are in relationship to others. This isn’t an air of superiority, but the knowledge that you have something to contribute to society. Do you have a social outlet, someone you can call when you need to talk? Do you feel valued by your friends and colleagues? Yes, even co-workers contribute to your social well-being.
Blessings in Your Career and Finances
Blessings in your Career
Like family, a valued career can look one way in one person and completely different in another. What do you want most from your career, and are you getting it? It may be financial peace, recognition, a schedule that works for you, and an opportunity to make a difference. A career could be volunteer work or paid employment. The important thing is to consider what you want from your career and whether or not you are getting it. For our purposes of approaching your career with gratitude, focus on the things you appreciate most about where you are right now in your career.
It can be difficult to separate career from finances. It’s important that you do this, though. Often the most satisfying thing about a person’s work life has nothing to do with money, at all. Still, it is important to be financially secure. Financial stress like other forms of stress is detrimental to your health.
It can also negatively affect your family. “…59 percent of divorcees say finances played a role in the breakup of their marriage, and 20 percent said financial conflict was a significant factor in their divorce…” Your kids will even be affected by your financial stress, according to David Code, author of Kids Pick Up on Everything: How Parental Stress is Toxic to Kids.
Yet, handled well, money and the things that it pays for can be a huge blessing. It pays your bills, housing expenses, and for fun experiences that enrich your life. You can start a business with it, or invest it for long-term financial security. You can also give it away, which has been shown to make you a happier, healthier, more grateful person.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste. What is the state of your mind/intellect? Are you naturally curious? Do you enjoy learning? Those are wonderful qualities to have. They help drive you to know more, to learn more, which will take you places in life. What kind of education do you have? While it’s not essential to have a formal education, it is definitely a blessing. Do you have a good imagination? Most importantly, do you have a good attitude toward learning new things? There are all sorts of opportunities available to improve your intellect. Many of them are completely free. This has never been truer than in this age of free online classes. Look at all the things you have available to you as things you can be grateful for.
Worry and stress affect the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system, and profoundly affects heart action – Charles W. Mayo, M.D.
As a caregiver, stress is something that can negatively affect me. That’s why self-care is so important. Yet too many caregivers don’t think about self-care until they reach the point of burnout. I was no different. I’ve learned my lesson, though. Now, I can spot the signs that I’m burning out from a mile away. I have put in place some burn-out-buffers. These include hobbies (for me, that’s foraging for wild mushrooms), quiet times each day, and annual retreats. I’ve also learned how to say “no” without feeling guilty. I have a supportive family. These are things that I count as blessings to my emotional well-being. How do you care for your emotional well-being?
Often, we focus on the things about our physical bodies we wish we could change. We wish our straight hair was curly and our curly hair, straight. Our weight fluctuates with every fad diet while we prop up the 445 billion dollar beauty industry with our insecurities. There’s nothing wrong with trying to feel better about how you look, but let’s start by considering the things we are thankful for. I like my nose. Apparently, a lot of people do because I’ve been told more than once that it’s my best feature. What do you like about you?
Our health is another aspect of our physical body that we can be thankful for, even if our health isn’t stellar. My husband has been fighting stage IV lung cancer for 6 years. If he had to choose something he felt great about, his health wouldn’t top the list. Still, that doesn’t stop him from counting his blessings. He could be so much worse off. He can still get out of bed each morning and accomplish things he wants to do and can spend time with family. And at the moment doesn’t even have a cough (that changes from time to time).
Years ago, there was an amazing woman who had spent her entire life in an iron lung. Yet, she had an attitude of gratitude that couldn’t be beaten. She was thankful to be able to spend time with family, friends, and visitors. She was even able to write a children’s book, graduate high school and take college courses from her iron lung.
I believe the most important blessings you can experience are those that nourish your soul. These are the things that enable you to feel close to your Creator. There is a fun quiz on Spiritual Temperaments, or the ways we best experience God. I enjoyed it because there are so many different ways to experience God. It was fun to be reminded of them as I took the quiz. My results said that I was “Sensate,” someone who likes to experience God with all of my senses. This is especially evident when I create things. I would agree with that assessment. Think about the things that enable you to experience God. Are there things you could be doing to strengthen your relationship with Him?
Count Your Blessings
I hope that by reviewing these areas of your life, you can find things to be thankful for. There are many ways to focus on gratitude, year round. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to give yourself a booster shot of blessing awareness. It’s also the perfect time of the year to start thinking about your goals for the upcoming year.
World-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, Ray Edwards, asks the question. “What do I most want to be thankful for a year from now?”
Starting Next week, we’re going to look at how to make that happen! If you haven’t already signed up to get notifications when a new post is published, do it now.
What Are YOUR Thoughts?
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I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:
I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.
 This report comes from a study commissioned by ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company, produced by research firm Edelman Intelligence and conducted as an online survey of n=500 adults nationwide who have been divorced in the last five. Interviewing took place from November 2- 15, 2016.
“Survey Results: When Divorce Does Damage to Your Credit.” Experian, 9 Jan. 2018, www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/survey-results-when-divorce-does-damage-to-your-credit/?pc=prt_exp_0&cc=prt_0217_divorcesurvey.
 “5 Ways Giving Is Good for You.” Greater Good, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you.
 Sorvino, Chloe. “Why The $445 Billion Beauty Industry Is A Gold Mine For Self-Made Women.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 24 May 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino/2017/05/18/self-made-women-wealth-beauty-gold-mine/#418892542a3a.
 Hyatt, Michael. “Achieve What Matters in 2017.” Michael Hyatt & Company, 2016.