This is the time of year when we are reminded to give thanks. I love Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday that celebrates food and being with loved ones. There aren’t any gifts, just the sharing of my favorite meal. On this special day, I want to talk about the power of giving thanks and of gratitude.
We often hear about the importance of gratitude or about having an “attitude of gratitude.” It’s almost cliché. But don’t let that cause you to dismiss the power of gratitude.
What are you grateful for in your life? I would guess that you have a lot to be grateful for. Bring to mind something for which you are grateful and allow yourself--in this moment--to feel full appreciation for it. It could be your health, your children, money—whatever it may be, generate gratitude for that one thing, right now. How does having gratitude make you feel?
Gratitude elevates our frequency--what you might think of as your mood or your attitude. This is the power of gratitude. Gratitude is the frequency that is the most harmonious with abundance.
Wallace Wattles, in the Science of Getting Rich, talks about how gratitude connects us with the source of all that there is; and from this place, comes our most creative ideas.
If you’re thinking, “I don’t have anything to be grateful for,” ask yourself, “If I did have something to be grateful for, what would it be?” You can start with the basics: “I’m grateful that I can see, that I can hear, that I can walk,” because not everyone can.
Gratitude also creates a feeling of expectation. When we are expecting something to happen, we are more open to ideas that will help us reach our goal. When we focus our attention on gratitude, we are less likely to notice lack, fear, frustration, or sadness. Where we put our attention expands.
There are two frameworks for gratitude. “Grateful for” is when we are grateful for the new job or client, or the warm bed we sleep in every night. We can be grateful for so many things.
One way to develop strong “grateful for” muscles is to keep a gratitude journal for thirty days. Start by writing down 5 things you are grateful for. Then each morning and night, read your list while feeling gratitude. Add one more item each time you read it. As your gratitude list grows, so will your gratitude awareness. Soon you will see how much you really do have to be grateful for.
The second framework is “gratitude in.” This is when we are going through an experience that we would not choose. A breakup, an illness, a scary financial time. Whatever it is, it is not our preference. “Gratitude in” requires deeper and stronger spiritual muscles.
Because he was a student of Jesus, Apostle Paul was tortured and put into a Roman prison. From this dark and disease-filled place he wrote, “I have learned this one thing at least. That in whatever condition I find myself, therein to be grateful.”
Paul didn’t say “therefore” to be grateful. His words were carefully constructed. He chose to say, “therein to be grateful,” so he would be able to find a way to be grateful in even the most undesirable situation.
We change when we create a generative gratitude. Our awareness changes, as does how we relate to our circumstances. Ultimately, gratitude changes our experience.
Following my only child’s death, I began the ritual of writing a gratitude list every night. At first my list was short. Then I started to notice the gifts that were coming from my experience. I had gained a courage and strength that I hadn’t known before. Life became precious to me and I only wanted to pursue what I loved. I appreciated my loved ones more. I became a more compassionate person. Looking at all these gifts kept me from asking the question, “why?” and kept me focused on the question, “In what ways can this experience empower and grow me?”
When life throws us a curve ball, we can decide to look for the good in it. We can practice being grateful “therein.”
Napoleon Hill, in Think and Grow Rich wrote, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” But we need to nurture that seed.
When you’re feeling disappointed or as if it’s never going to happen—whatever the contractive emotion or thought might be—allow yourself to feel gratitude. It may take a little practice, but it’s worth the effort.
On this Thanksgiving, I invite you to generate the feeling of gratitude... and see how it changes you.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
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