There is something powerful about setting aside time to be thankful. The ways gratitude is expressed are as diverse as those who are giving thanks. Some people pause to count their blessings several times a day; others do so less frequently.
The world's great religions all address the importance of gratitude in their teachings. Plenty of non-religious organizations and self-help groups extol the virtues of thankfulness, too. And, of course, countries do it. The United States celebrates Thanksgiving this year on Thurs., Nov. 28. Canada did so on Mon. Oct. 14. And the ritual is not exclusive to North America. Other countries – Liberia, Japan and Germany, for example – have similar celebrations.
However, given how hectic our lives are today, it's easy to obsess over logistics for the holiday, cook and bake in a whirlwind, worry about challenging family dynamics, and overeat while trying not to. And given how demanding careers in the payments industry are, and how easy it is with today's technology to tune into our business responsibilities 24/7, it can be difficult to slow down and let gratitude sink in.
So what's the solution? It begins with preparation. As a payments pro, part of preparing for the holiday could be to call your most important merchants and partners, wish them a happy holiday, and tell them how much you appreciate doing business with them. You could also send notes of appreciation to all of your merchants, partners and staff. If you're enterprising, you might include a family recipe they could try out for their holiday spread, or send a short story or poem that eloquently captures the essence of the day.
It's also important to fill merchants in on how they can get help during the big holiday weekend. If you're doing anything special to help them through Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday season, be sure to let them know.
If you're gathering with family members who tend to become upset, it makes sense to plan ahead much like you would prepare for a business presentation. Think about how to bring about the best possible outcome for all and how you could address difficulties that tend to crop up whenever you get together. If you're not hosting the gathering, bring a gift for those who are. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Remember to give them the gift of listening, too. Then let go and relax.
Also, a little levity can't hurt. For example, Jay Leno said, "You can tell you ate too much for Thanksgiving when you have to let your bathrobe out." And Erma Bombeck wrote, "I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage." Don't those bring a smile to your face? You can do the same for others. If your family and friends can share in laughter while carving up that turkey, it will likely help everyone relax and feel more joy.
And don't worry about doing everything the "right" way. What is right for you, your family and friends is what you decide is right. And I wish you the very best as we begin another year-end holiday season.
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