During our trip to Borrego Springs, CA last week, Rich and I talked about the many things we are thankful for. Big things—like how much we love our new 2020 Globetrotter and how excited we are to be creating a five year ‘life plan’ together.
And little things—like the enjoyment we got out of a historic photography exhibit at the town hall in Julian, CA, and the fun and convenience of pulling over and making lunch in our Airstream while traveling.
As challenging as 2020 has been, we try every day to remind ourselves how truly good our lives really are. If we regularly remind ourselves about the things and people we’re thankful for, unpleasant things don’t seem quite as bleak. In fact, multiple studies have shown that expressing gratitude can increase happiness and emotional health, improve psychological well-being, and make us more resilient against envy and other negative feelings because of the positive emotions it creates.
When I feel frustrated or when things aren’t going well, I remind myself how blessed I am to have access to clean water and hot showers, which so many people in the world don’t. How thankful I am that my good health enables me to run. And how much joy I get from waking up in our cozy Airstream bedroom to watch the sunrise.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving we’ve decided to codify, if you will, our attitude of thankfulness, by logging the things we’re grateful for and thanking those who make our good life possible. Rich and I encourage you to join us for what we’re calling our 30-Day Thank You Challenge.
Every day from November 24 to December 24, do these two simple things:
- Write down at least one thing you are thankful for.
It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you feel grateful for it. It could be something big, like an easy sale of an elderly parent’s home, or a final chemo treatment. Or small, like discovering the best apple pie you’ve ever tasted, or playing a game of catch with your grandson.
I’ve found that writing down the things I’m thankful for, instead of just thinking or talking about them, gives them more power. They become “real” because you can see and reflect on them later.
So, grab a small notebook or journal. Next to each day’s date for the next 30 days, log one thing you are thankful for. If you prefer using an app for this, try Gratitude—which is free, private, and does not require an account. (I’m trying it out for the 30-Day Challenge.) You could also use a journal app like Day One.
- Say thanks to a person you appreciate or who has done something nice, big or small.
Think about how many people come in and out of your life on a daily basis. Friends and colleagues. Your house cleaner. The neighbors who walk their dogs at the same time you do each day. The service guy at the dealership. The outdoor line manager at Trader Joe’s. We have so many pleasant and positive interactions that go unacknowledged, every day.
So, for the next 30 days, acknowledge them. Either verbally or in writing.
When you begin recognizing and thanking people who’ve done nice things, or who do their job admirably and competently, it’s amazing how it lights them up—which will change both your perspective and theirs.
When I was a kid, my mom insisted that my brother and I write thank you cards to every person who gave us birthday, Christmas, graduation or other gifts. We hated it, but today I cherish the fact that writing thank you notes is so hardwired in me. These days, it’s rare that I don’t send a handwritten note after attending a dinner party, receiving a gift, or being the recipient of some other thoughtful act.
It’s up to you whether you express your appreciation verbally or in writing, or a combination of both. But I find that sitting down and handwriting a thank you note slows me down and gets me to focus on how much the person’s thoughtfulness meant to me.
If you decide to join me and Rich in this challenge, you will have a list of at least 30 things you are thankful for by Christmas Eve. And, you’ll have spread your positive, thankfulness magic to a bunch of people in your life, and there’s no telling how that will be paid forward in their lives.
So, get yourself a journal or download an app and create your first entry today. At the end of 30 days, you may just have created the most meaningful Christmas gift you’ve ever been given.
Cheryl Toth (a.k.a., Tothie) is Director of Marketing, Airstream Life Store, and Co-Founder of the Globetrotter Gallery. She got her first Airstream (with Rich Luhr) in the summer of 2020 and has been digging the freedom of road travel ever since.