It’s that time of year again here in the U.S. where family and friends gather for the holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving. Traditionally Thanksgiving was to celebrate the bounty gathered from the harvest and has routes in English religious celebrations. It has grown into an annual celebration and reminder to be grateful for all of the things which make life special.
While it’s great that there is such a day to remind us to be thankful, once each year is really not going to cut it. How miserable would you feel if you can only remember to be grateful for one day of the year? Giving thanks and practicing gratitude can have a powerful effect, not only on our own lives but on those of the people around us. That is why I would challenge you all to make each day a day of “thanksgiving”.
Gratitude isn’t about how much or how little you perceive that you have, but about how you live your “story”. It is one of the foundation steps in most of the 12 Step Programs out there and participants swear by it for the personal healing and affects it brings across all aspects of life. Gratitude helps us to break out of the walls we often erect around our lives and to live more authentically.
This means that gratitude is not just something to practice in times of good fortune, but a habit to get into at all times. It doesn’t mean being cheesy or fake, but finding that place where you feel genuinely thankful for something and allowing that to expand your capacity for joy and deeper meaning in life.
One of the key words here is “practice”. It is very easy to get caught up in day to day detritus and things that aren’t going so well. Practicing gratitude takes effort and daily mindfulness – you don’t want to waste huge chunks of your lifetime being bitter, worried or angry!
Numerous personalities from Oprah to Tony Robbins to highly successful business owners have credited the power of gratitude with bringing more positive things into their lives. That old adage “you get back what you put out there” rings true in that positive outcomes, people or opportunities tend to be attracted to more positive people.
It will take practice, particularly if you have been in the habit of a more negative frame of mind, but you could start out by thinking of the things in your life that you possibly take for granted. We all have something which we simply haven’t fathomed doing without, so if your day is heading so far down the toilet that you’re struggling to be grateful, think about those things you take for granted and be thankful for them.
Gratitude is a choice rather than something you are inherently born with. What do you choose?