Greetings! As we approach the holiday season, my fervent wish for you is safety, good health, and the continued pursuit of your best possible life. I feel grateful for your presence in my life. If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving this week, Happy Thanksgiving! 

Last Thanksgiving, I published a strengths-filled recipe for enjoying any holiday. This year, I’m updating that recipe since the holiday season is mixed with a global pandemic, political divisions, job losses, food insecurity, illness, and other significant stressors. 

The recipe below is designed to be uplifting and provide respite, no matter the stressors you’re currently facing. Use this recipe for the holidays and every day. Feel free to substitute ingredients when you think they will make a positive difference.

The Inspiration

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s about people coming together to express gratitude and share life’s abundance and blessings. The commercial trappings of other holidays don’t exist; only community. 

This year, my family won’t be having its traditional gathering. We will celebrate safely at a distance over Zoom, but of course it won’t be the same. Nonetheless, many rituals can continue. One of my new rituals is sharing my recipe for a delicious, strengths-fueled Thanksgiving holiday.

Bon appetit! 

Ingredients

  • Your top 3 signature strengths
  • 2 parts strengths-spotting
  • A large dollop of gratitude
  • 1 overused strength, tempered
  • 1 underused strength, elevated

Step 1

Identify 3 of your signature strengths and choose one new way to express them on Thanksgiving day.

We know from research that using a signature strength in a new way every day for a week can increase happiness and reduce depression for months (Seligman, et al, 2005). To identify your signature strengths, take the character strengths survey. I’m choosing my 3 go-to signature strengths: creativity, humor, and perspective.

Creativity keeps me inspired. I love to cook and unleash my creativity in the kitchen. Since I’m not cooking for a crowd this year, I have room to experiment with different flavors and combinations.  

Humor keeps my mood lifted and provides a much-needed break from the heaviness of the day. Pets are often a source of fun and playfulness, like in this short video of dogs and cats playing. Even a 3-minute humor break can shift me into a more positive mindset.

Perspective keeps me grounded in pressure-filled situations. The differences in this year’s holiday give me pause to see the big picture. On one hand, I will miss the energetic chaos of cooking, cleaning, and hosting. However, keeping my family, friends, and community safe and healthy in the long-term is so much more important to me.

Which of your top strengths will you choose for your holiday recipe? If you’d like to feel more confident discussing your strengths, consider registering for a personal coaching session with me to Power Up and strengthen your strengths.

Step 2

Add 2 parts strengths-spotting yourself and the people around you.

Strengths-spotting is a gift you can give on every occasion. It is the gift of seeing and valuing people for their best qualities. When your 10-year-old is behaving well, appreciate her self-regulation.  When you notice someone being helpful, point out his kindness.  Don’t forget to notice your own strengths – how your bravery led you to this moment in time, or how your honesty is helping you be authentic. 

For extra sweetness, spot the strengths in someone with whom you have a difficult relationship or who is rubbing you the wrong way. Notice the effect this has on not only the person, but you. 

Step 3

Fold in a dollop of gratitude.

Gratitude is inherent in the Thanksgiving holiday, but we don’t always remember to express it. No matter how bad things get, there is always something to feel grateful for – the sunny sky, a dear friend, good health. Take a moment to notice and appreciate the blessings in your life. If you’re with others, either in person or virtually, ask each person to name what or who they feel grateful for, and notice the elevating effect.  

Step 4

Add at least 1 overused strength, tempered, and 1 underused strength, elevated.

Which of your strengths might you tend to overuse or underuse during holidays? Some of us become overly critical when under stress, overusing judgment. Temper that strength by taking a few deep breaths to reset and open your mind.

Don’t forget that even a crabby relative deserves kindness. Elevate yours by speaking to him with kind words or striking up a conversation to get to know him better.

Step 5

Blend all ingredients gently together, infusing strengths into Thanksgiving and every day.   

Feel free to add more of your unique blend of character strengths for added sweetness.

The Practice

  1. Gather your ingredients and follow the recipe.
  2. Remember that this is your recipe. It is within your reach to have a delicious, strengths-fueled holiday. Choose your ingredients to shape who you are at this moment and who you want to become in each new moment
  3. Feel free to share the recipe with your loved ones to multiply the goodness!

The Reflection

A strengths-fueled holiday is different from other days because __________. 

The possibilities are endless. Perhaps you feel a bit more serene or uplifted. Perhaps your perspective has shifted in a helpful way. Perhaps you connected more deeply with a loved one.

May all your days be fueled by your strengths.

With all good wishes, 
Jane