It started as just another strange thought among many.
“Why do people focus their positive feelings and the expression of those feelings when the calendar tells them to?
Isn't experiencing sweet vibes and sharing groovy feelings timeless… and independent of time?”
You might know what I'm talking about if you've ever:
- Gone all-in on giving gifts around “The Holidays”
- Overdosed on gratitude and contentment around Thanksgiving
- Made a card for someone special on their birthday, Mother's Day, Father's Day, or another important calendar day
Those all feel goooood, don't they?
All these annual events create happiness, peaceful reflection, and appreciation for our abundance.
Yet we wait for a calendar trigger to have the most meaningful and rewarding experiences.
In what universe does that make sense?
I don't freakin' know and I'm not cool with that anymore. That's why I'm doing something about it.
And you're going to join me!
Will I force you to create moments when you're walking on air?
(or walking on sunshine, Katrina & The Waves 1980s style)
But you could easily find yourself spending today like it's Thanksgiving. Doesn't that sound nice?
A New Narrative
Here's something you don't realize: today – May 27th – is the calendar day as far away as possible from American Thanksgiving 2012 and Thanksgiving 2013.
So we're going to treat it like just another day; nose down in work, crazily or mindlessly running errands, taking our amazing friends and family for granted, and not appreciating the soft bed, warm food, abundant sanitation, and/or a climate-controlled environment.
Hell no! Not today.
Today is my day to overdose on gratitude, contentment, joy, giving, and the free expression of love.
Today can be your day for all these things too.
This isn't crazy. Even the very sane and influential Joshua Becker thought that celebrating May 27th like Thanksgiving was a great idea in my chat with him.
Here are some ways we're going to do it. I'm sure you'll come up with awesome ones of your own in the comments:
- Recreate the traditions: Some of my past Thanksgiving traditions include catching up with relatives I don't see often, younger cousin vs. older cousins touch football, a lawn game called washoo (it's a Midwest thing), family fun at the bowling alley (for the coveted Turkey Bowl trophy), watching football, and deep reflection about my unbelievably good fortune. Maybe you make a list of what you're thankful for, volunteer at a homeless shelter or bring meals to the less fortunate, give work advice to a younger generation, retell stories of past Thanksgivings, share meaningful quotes, talk a long walk, take pictures to document the happy times, toast to gratitude, or something else. Except for playing or watching football, why can't we do any of these things today?
- Type, call, and generally let the people we care about know how much they rock: No matter how busy your day is, I guarantee you have ten minutes (or more) to send quick emails or texts to tell family members that you love them (and why). Any craziness can subside long enough to call your best friend and tell him or her, “Hey. I just wanted you to know that I'm grateful for you and our schuper-duper friendship.”
- Round up the crew for a meal: I spend Thanksgiving with family, but maybe you spend it with close friends, strangers, or people down on their luck. It doesn't matter who it is. Just round up some folks for a spontaneous meal today (with or without all the fixins) and delight in the rituals of Thanksgiving. Tell everyone why you're grateful. Explain how content you are in this moment. Heck, have a virtual meal with distant friends or family via Skype or Google Hangouts. Make this an event you won't forget. You know… like Thanksgiving.
- Document your Thanksgiving-like experience: Write or record your feelings and the experiences at the end of today. Then set up a recurring reminder in your scheduler – monthly sounds good and daily sounds wicked awesome – to review your recap of the day.
Creating a trigger to remind yourself that you don't need to let the amazingness of annual events only happen annually is powerful. But there are more triggers to get the endorphins and gratitude flowing.
Holiday Triggers on non-Holidays
Whatcha need? A trigger for gratitude, living with intention, contentment, compassion, giving, happiness, or abundance? I have a resource for each one (and more if you request in the comments):
- Gratitude trigger: As my man Amit Amin says, “Gratitude increases our happiness, improves our relationships, and makes us healthier. And it does so reliably. Over 40 research studies have shown the same thing – gratitude rocks. So how can we get more of it?” Read this for a ton of awesome gratitude triggers and see the comments if you want to know which one I choose to form a habit.
- Living with intention trigger: Leo Babauta dares to ask questions like, “What if you were very aware of your intention for your actions? How would that transform the action, and your life?” And then he answers them in a powerful way that applies to anyone. His short essay on leading an intentional life changed the way I view “regular” events… and could for you too.
- Contentment trigger: Take your pick. Discover a new question to ask, read a short guide on practicing contentment, or explore the relationship between gratitude and contentment.
- Compassion trigger: Leo's at it again with this manifesto on practical compassion. You might be surprised to know where compassion starts and how simple easing suffering can be.
- Giving trigger: A guest post I wrote on Becoming Minimalist explains why I give in nontraditional ways and how you can too… on any day of the year.
- Happiness trigger: This Chip Conley TEDTalk will knock your socks off. Watch it until you can recite parts in your sleep. And re-watch this whenever you want to trigger happiness.
- Abundance trigger: I live primally. Even if you don't, this Mark's Daily Apple article on simplifying life and refocusing on what's important is a fantastic way to jolt your brain out of negative self-talk and away from feeling scarcity.
I've focused on recreating Thanksgiving today because it should be the last thing on my mind.
But you could easily celebrate a “regular” day like any other important calendar day. Using this simple calendar tool or this groovy calendar tool, here are some ideas for applying this concept creatively:
- Happy “138 days since your last birthday, best friend” Day!
- Merry “Let's continue our quest to consume less and create more in June” Day!
- Quirky “Dress up like whatever you want and don't care what anyone thinks in April” Day!
- Solemn “Atone for your sins because it's the right thing to do on any day” Day.
- Joyous “Let's show mom and dad how much we love them in October” Day!
Transform a “normal” day into something awesome just because you can or because of its relation to a special event. Pick a day in the next month and declare it <Fill in the Blank Day>… because you won't let the calendar dictate when you can or should have certain experiences anymore!
And then round up friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, or strangers to celebrate with you. Declaring your unique holiday with a blog post, email, phone calls, knocking on doors, or another method doesn't matter. And doing this spontaneously or with planning is up to you.
But this May 27th, 2013 – the day equidistant from the previous and next Thanksgiving – dig deep to remember all the reasons you're grateful, content, and feel abundance.
Remember the inspiring blog posts you read around Thanksgiving. Recall the food with family. Reminisce about friendly conversations or that special way you give back during “The Holidays.”
And then don't wait to recreate the spirit of Thanksgiving until, well, Thanksgiving.
Do it now.
Do something small (or huge).
Bring smiles to your face… and the faces of everyone else around you.
What traditions will you recreate today or on another “regular” day? Which trigger did you need most and what triggers should I add to the list?
Photo Credit: Brandon Christopher Warren