Thanksgiving has always been a time for reflection and gratitude. This world seems like a pretty unforgiving place sometimes and yet, as I look around, I realize that my life is so filled with joy and love and hope for the future! When times are the most difficult, giving thanks is often the best way I know to turn around my thinking.

We all face hardships and some can be more daunting than others but when I wake up every morning and focus on the smiles and hugs of my beautiful children; the warmth in my heart because I know I am loved by a good man; the wagging tails of my pups longing to be fed and let out; that my children are able to spend quality time with my parents, their grandparents, because they now live with us; that we all (those in my house) have relatively good health; that I have good friends who share my passion and purpose in life; that I get to wake up and serve my adopted community with my work and doing what I love; it grounds me.

But as I sat at my desk this morning, I could not get passed a picture I saw of the wildfires raging in California and I wanted to take a minute to remind us all, including myself, that there is so much pain and suffering in the world today – and much of it is in our own backyard. My heart aches for the people devastated by the fires in California, my heart hurts for the folks still dealing with the aftermath of the hurricanes that have brutalized so many this past year, my heart breaks for the homeless, for the needy, for the unemployed and struggling, for the parents and children all over the world who had to leave their homes to find safety, food, shelter in other areas. There truly is so much pain in the world and I cannot fix it all but I can do my part to make the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time.

So as I enter this week of Thanksgiving, and in the spirit of gratitude, I am choosing to focus on others who might not have as much to be grateful for as I do. I am going to be kind to someone who isn’t expecting it — open more doors, allow someone to cut in front of me in the checkout line because they have fewer items and I know they are in a hurry, smile more, drop off leftover food at the shelter, buy someone in line their coffee or lunch. I am going to be intentionally kind and aware of how I impact the world around me (positively and negatively). There are so many things we can do daily to help others and my goal is to do at least one thing to help someone else every day this week. And who knows, maybe for the rest of the year!

Many years ago I read an article in O Magazine and it listed 35 Little Acts of Kindness. We know that small acts of kindness, gestures of goodwill, being kind to strangers can change someone’s day and even their life — so that will be my goal this week. Will you join me?

Here is Oprah’s list to inspire you:

1. Say “Good morning” to a person standing next to you in the elevator.

2. Pay the toll for the driver behind you.

3. Take a minute to direct someone who is lost, even though you’re rushing.

4. Write a letter to a child who could use some extra attention. Kids love getting mail.

5. Offer to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor, especially in extreme weather.

6. Give a homeless person your doggie bag.

7. Say “I love you” to someone you love.

8. Put a coin in an expired meter.

9. Help a mother carry her baby stroller up the subway stairs, or hold a door open for her.

10. Each time you get a new item of clothing, give away something old.

11. Take someone’s shift as the car-pool parent.

12. Bring your assistant coffee.

13. Out of the blue, send flowers to a friend.

14. Say “please” and “thank you”—and really mean it.

15. When you’re on a crowded train or bus, offer your seat to an elderly, disabled or pregnant person.

16. Don’t interrupt when someone is explaining herself.

17. Let a fellow driver merge into your lane.

18. Offer to baby-sit for a single mom.

19. Put your shopping cart back in its place.

20. Call or write to a teacher who changed your life.

21. Bring a box of doughnuts to share at the office.

22. Forgive someone a debt–and never bring it up again.

23. Listen with all your senses.

24. Write a note to the boss of someone who helps you, and explain how great a job that person is doing.

25. Simply say “I’m sorry” when you’re wrong.

26. Throw away your trash—and someone else’s—after a movie, picnic or visit to a park.

27. Encourage someone who seems despondent.

28. Volunteer to take care of a friend’s dog while he is vacationing.

29. Help a friend pack for a move.

30. Ask someone “How are you really doing?”—and then really listen to her response.

31. Offer change when the person in front of you at the register comes up short.

32. Before a friend moves away, give her your favorite recipe or quote and a photo of the two of you together.

33. Leave a generous tip for a pleasant waiter.

34. At work, offer to transfer a caller who needs help from another department.

35. Pass along a great book you’ve just finished reading.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer

Be the light this week. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

When you are ready to explore the world with your family, please schedule a 30-minute Discovery Session with me at I’d LOVE to help!

All my best,

Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, a Certified Professional Coach, and the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel began by designing Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of those Heritage Journeys has always been on deepening family connections, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Motherland Travel also uses the philosophies of transformative Travel for designing family trips with purpose – building rich connections, with each other and the world! Read more about her here >>

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