“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
Depending on where you’re from, you may celebrate Thanksgiving today. You might get together with your family over a massive gravy-drenched feast. You might celebrate with a chosen family of friends, with traditional food, vegan fare, or a nontraditional fast food spread.
Regardless of who surrounds you today or what meal you all share together, you’ll likely reflect upon your blessings, as we tend to do at this time of year.
You might announce them elocution style as you all take turns at the table; or you might blog about them, tweet them, or simply acknowledge them mentally in a moment of silent gratitude.
There are lots of ways to do this whole appreciation thing, and just as many wonderful things to be grateful for in life.
Today, as you take time to acknowledge all the fortunate parts of your circumstances—your health, the food you eat, the freedoms you enjoy, the job that provides for you, and the people you love—I recommend taking some time to appreciate something that often goes unrecognized.
Take some time today to appreciate yourself.
I’m not talking about appreciating the miracle of life, although it’s obviously an awesome thing. I’m talking about actually appreciating all the good things you’ve done for you and the world.
This may seem somewhat ego-driven, and out of place for a person who runs a site called Tiny Buddha. But take a minute to think about how valuable your actions are, both for you and other people.
All of our relationships depend upon our relationship with ourselves. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t possibly love someone else. If you don’t respect yourself, you likely won’t make respectable choices. If you don’t value your time, you probably won’t use your time in a way you might deem valuable.
The way you treat yourself dictates how you’ll treat the world around you. So today I say we should all recognize all the good we each do each day. While rattling off physical things and conditions that we deem to be positive, we should take a moment to celebrate the person who also weathers the negative.
Here are a few things to appreciate about yourself today:
The Good Things You Do for You
1. You let yourself learn new things, which helps you grow and contribute to the world.
2. You do good things for your body, like exercising and eating healthy foods (even if not always).
3. You honor your life by making healthcare a priority.
4. You take time away from work to simply be, which allows you to feel balanced.
5. You bounce back from bad days and disappointments.
6. You do what’s right for you, even if it’s not easy to say no to other people (and even if you occasionally people please).
7. You choose to be around people who make you feel good about yourself.
8. You work toward goals that make you feel passionate and purposeful.
9. You smile, which benefits both you and the people around you.
10. You give yourself the sleep you need to feel energized and balanced each day (even you sometimes need to get better sleep).
The Good Things You Do for Other People
1. You have good intentions.
2. You accept people for who they are and try to keep an open mind.
3. You make people laugh, whether you have a dry humor, an acerbic wit, or a caricature-like personality.
4. You listen to the people when they need an ear.
5. You’re compassionate toward other people.
6. You make selfless decisions to look out for the people you love, even if not always.
7. You forgive people when they make mistakes, even if sometimes it’s hard.
8. You vocalize it when you notice something you value, admire, or appreciate in someone else.
9. You help other people reach their potential.
10. You’re honest with people, even if sometimes vulnerability feels scary.
The Good Things You Do for the World
1. You care about your work, or something you do outside it, and you do it passionately.
2. You want to make a difference.
3. You vote to create positive change.
4. You recycle to preserve our natural resources.
5. You choose not to litter.
6. If you’re a parent, you’re shaping the next generation.
7. You give back, whether that means volunteering, donating old clothes, or simply helping a stranger in need.
8. You call for help when you see something potentially hazardous.
9. You teach something valuable to someone every day, whether you realize it or not.
10. You make positive changes in yourself—and being the change you want to see is the best way to change the world.
And one last one: You’re great, you’re wonderful, and everybody likes you. (Okay, so that one was Rodney Dangerfield, but it felt apropos!)
These ideas might not all resonate with you, but I’m sure the majority of them are true. Today, as you take inventory of all the things you appreciate, remember that you play a prominent role on many other people’s lists.
One final request: because you are that valuable person who does so many good things in the world, I would appreciate knowing you. It’s a funny thing running a blog. I know there are thousands of people reading, and yet there are so many people who have never commented.
I do this to connect with you. Knowing you makes it all worthwhile.
Say hello in the comments if you get a chance, and share a little something about you. I’d be grateful to make your acquaintance!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
*Update: Since I wrote this post, I launched a gratitude journal/coloring book that people seem to be really enjoying! If you're interested, you can learn more here.