Gratitude

Thankful Image shadow

November is considered the “month of gratitude” by many people since this is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Now, for the sake of this piece, please put your thoughts, feelings, and opinions aside regarding the origins of the holiday as I’d like to focus on the “spirit” of the holiday.   And that spirit is one of gratitude. 

Thanksgiving is a really neat holiday because it is a time for family and friends to come together without the expectation of gifts, baskets filled with chocolate, or fireworks.  It is a time for family and friends to come together and break bread while doing nothing more than celebrating one another.  It is a time for family and friends to reflect on all of the wonderful things that they have (because everyone, and I mean everyone has something to be grateful for!) and share them with one another.  It is a time, quite simply, FOR family and friends.  It is a time for gratitude.  It is a time for thanks.

There are no other holidays quite like this one.  All of the others seem to involve treats or gifts or big parties.   But not Thanksgiving.  Nope.  It is about family and friends and it is about food.  What is interesting to note is that these are two of our basic needs according to many, many researchers:  food and love/belonging.  And here we have a day dedicated to them both, together.

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we as a society took the idea of Thanksgiving, the idea of gratitude, and began applying it to our daily lives in some way.  Some people keep a gratitude journal.  Some people simply list in their head three things that they are grateful for each morning.  Some people do the same at night. 

Regardless of whatever method, style, or technique someone is using, it is important to remember that gratitude is a practice.  People don’t just feel grateful and then stay there, feeling grateful all day long.  What typically happens is someone spends time working on gratitude, then the baby wakes up.  Or the FedEx person comes.  Or the phone rings.  Or a billion other things happen that take us out of that place of gratitude. 

But here’s the deal.  The more we practice going to that place in our heads and in our hearts, the easier it is to get back to that place.  Because gratitude, just like most things, is a practice.  It is a choice.  It is something that you can choose to work towards and to feel, whenever you’d like, as often as you’d like. 

Grateful people aren’t just somehow magically wired to feel gratitude.  There isn’t some secret magical pill or potion to make it happen.  It is a way of living.  It is a way of thinking.  It is a way of being in the world.  But it is practice.  And what happens when we practice something?  We get better at it and it becomes easier because it becomes familiar.

So I challenge you to practice an attitude of gratitude on days other than Thanksgiving (or other holidays, including your birthday because yes, that IS a holiday worth celebrating!).  I challenge you to practice an attitude of gratitude during months other than November.  I challenge you to begin to incorporate gratitude into your daily living.   I promise that things in your life will start to change if you make this part of how you move about your day.

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