If you were asked to list some of the different areas of your life, what categories would you use to describe them? They could be as basic as “personal” and “professional.”  Or you might include family, friends, and faith. Leisure activities, hobbies, or travel. Or health and well-being – physically, financially, mentally, or spiritually. There’s really no end to the number or names of categories you can choose to catalog the events and activities of your life.

This exercise is something I often do with my coaching clients and in some of my workshops. It can serve a variety of purposes, such as determining or recognizing what’s most important in our lives, or making goals and plans for the future. We can use it to see patterns among different areas of our lives, or to recognize roadblocks and bottlenecks we need to get around or blast through. It can also help us to focus on changes we’d like to make, and to recognize ways and places in which our lives are out of balance, and what we would need to do to correct them.

I’ve just thought of another way to use a list such as this, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to do so.

I’m sure you know what I’m going to say next – that a list of the different categories of our lives gives us a new way to focus on things we are grateful for. It helps us to do so in each separate area of our lives, not in a generic catch-all kind of way, like “I’m grateful for my family and friends, for this wonderful meal, and that we’re all safe and warm.” That actually is a lot to be grateful for, this year or any year. But it doesn’t really touch on specifics, which can have an even more powerful effect on us.

Why don’t you join me in this right now? Grab a sheet of paper and a pen – or open a new document on your computer. Name some of the different areas or categories of your life, and write them down in a numbered list. Take a moment or two to sit back and reflect on them, then write down something you’re grateful for in each one.

In addition to some of the categories I’ve already named, my list would include my writing, Uganda, and new activities and organizations I’ve become a part of within the last year or so.

I’m grateful that each of my kids has found someone wonderful to spend the rest of their lives with. I’m grateful that I had a chance to reconnect recently with three friends whom I haven’t seen in a long time. I’m grateful for a religious pilgrimage I’ll be going on next year, and I’m grateful that I’ve just about finished a work project that has taken way longer than it should have or that I expected it to.

I’m also enormously grateful for the opportunity to continue sharing my experiences, discoveries, and life lessons with you every week.  I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned along the way. And I’m grateful whenever I’m told I made a difference in someone’s life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on November 25, 2015 (published early due to the Thanksgiving holiday).
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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