Thanksgiving is a welcome pause from days packed with meetings and deadlines, and we’re thankful for that much-needed break. In thinking about the often overlooked things we’re grateful for this time of year, we asked the Thrive Global community to share the surprising and unexpected aspects of their lives that made their gratitude lists this holiday season.

The chance to learn from the past  

“There are times where people have said not to focus on what you don’t have, but to focus on what you do have. However, I think there is immense wisdom and understanding that can come from recognizing what we do not have. We then can appreciate it when we see it in others. We also can face reality and begin to embrace the new normal. Since everything is magnified during the holiday season, I am unexpectedly thankful for the opportunity to learn from the past — even the parts that I miss — and also to embrace the opportunity to create new memories with those around me.”

—Josh Neuer, licensed professional counselor, Greenville, SC

Everything that hasn’t gone our way

“This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for all that’s gone wrong! My plans did not include overwork and undue stress and burnout, but going through those awful experiences helped me reevaluate what was no longer working for me, and gave me the courage to seek what would. I’ve since stepped out of the corporate world, changed my career path, sought new skills and prioritized my health and family in ways that allow me more time to do what brings me joy.”

—Valerie Gordon, communications and career consultant, Hartford, CT

Loved ones who support your uniqueness

“I am unexpectedly grateful for how supportive my loved ones are of my dietary needs. Having Celiac Disease and trying to navigate the holidays without support can be tough. I am reminded of how lucky I am to have a family that understands and respects my need for safe, gluten-free foods!“

—Tayler Silfverduk, nutrition and dietetics, Columbus, Ohio

A trip you stopped putting off and actually took

“My father passed away last fall, and that prompted my sister and me to finally take our sisters’ trip to Paris. We had been talking about it since we were little girls. We kept saying ‘someday.’ I am grateful that ‘someday’ happened and that we had this very special time together this year. I will cherish those memories for the rest of my life.”

—Miriam Senft, co-CEO, Blooming Grove, NY

Kids’ chaos

“I am feeling deeply grateful and blessed to be surrounded by my six healthy grandchildren. Having volunteered at the Boston’s Children’s Hospital for over 30 years, I dearly realize how lucky we are to have healthy grandchildren. Bring on every moment of chaos, laughter, tears and yelling: each little noise creates a volume of joy and indescribable happiness.”

—NSS, interior designer, Nantucket, MA

Life itself

“I’m grateful for life. So many have lost their lives unexpectedly — my husband included — and because of this, I don’t take my days for granted. When you look around at our world today, really no one should take life for granted because so many are being lost to senseless violence. At night, when I find it hard to go to sleep because I’m overwhelmed, or worrying, or stressed, I fall asleep saying, ‘thank you for this pillow. Thank you for my safe home. Thank you for my health, and my son’s health.’ I lull myself to sleep giving thanks for the most simple things and it calms my mind and brings peace into my heart. Now that I have a greater value for life, I’ve found that there’s so much to be grateful for, even in the midst of hardships. We just have to look at the little detail that we normally take for granted.”

—Karen Millsap, speaker and heart healer, Orlando, FL

A morning wellness routine that works for you

“I am grateful for developing a wellness routine that gives me a burst of happiness and energy throughout the day. Most mornings, I listen to a motivational recording, journal and then exercise before 7AM. Five years ago, a health scare limited my ability to exercise for a while, so being fit and healthy is something I will never take for granted. Now, taking a morning spin class on Thanksgiving and nurturing my well-being by journaling is just as much a tradition as eating turkey.”

—Shira Miller, corporate communications, Atlanta, GA

The people who made you who you are

“This year marks ten years since I was just another homeless teen. Being UK-based, I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but I am always thankful to those who helped me continue with my education, gave me shelter and ultimately contributed to who I am today. Thanks to them, I have my own home, my own business and my little family”

—Wendy Y., copywriter, Manchester, UK

What your body does

“In addition to my children, family, friends and all the other usual things, I’m most grateful for my body and the magnificent work it does each day. We often take our bodies and the amazing stuff they do for granted. Take a minute to ponder all the amazing things they do without thinking, including those thoughts! Blood pumps through us as courtesy of our heart. Air circulates as a gift from our lungs. Our feet carry us place to place without asking. Our neck and shoulders hold our heads, which cradle our brains, which are vessels for our senses. And on and on it goes, seamlessly without thought, provocation, or invitation. It just does because it can. Isn’t that a miraculous blessing? Today, this season, and everyday are opportunities to express thankfulness for the perfectly integrated operating system of our anatomies!”

—Lisa Cypers Kamen, optimal lifestyle management expert, Los Angeles, CA

An orange-colored couch

“This year, I am grateful for an orange couch. When I moved in with my boyfriend, he had a small loveseat in his apartment. Whenever his daughter would come for the weekend, we never had enough space and one of us would inevitably end up sitting on the floor. Last Christmas, we bought a huge orange sectional for the living room. It has really brought us together as a family. We each have our own cozy spot for family movie night. And no one has to sit on the floor anymore!”

—Rebecca, freelance writer/editor, Westlake, OH

The pain you’ve gone through

This year, I’m thankful for my pain, which is a weird thing to consider a blessing. But without it, I wouldn’t have met my own strength, nor perseverance in times of struggle. I’m also more open to talk about my pain with others, and I’ve noticed that it brings people together more than it rips them apart. There is this unity in the breakdown that is raw and vulnerable. I’ve found immense beauty there.”

—Aleks Slijepcevic, project coordinator, Newark, DE


“We often find it easy to be grateful for family and friends, for our animals and the good things we have in our lives. It can be trickier to be grateful to the self, to find that place of thanks for all that we have done in the past year. We can feel like that type of focus is selfish. But in order to be truly grateful to others, we have to start with a good dose of gratitude to yourself.”

—Jacqui Burge, wellness coach, Ojai, CA

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.