Thanksgiving time again! And the race is on! Who’s going to host? Where is Uncle Alan go to stay? Who can pick up Grandpa? Can you bring over the card table and chairs? Does this turkey look done? Did anyone think to pick up cranberry sauce? With all this noise and internal chatter it is so easy to forget the most important part of Thanksgiving- the special sauce. That certain something that makes everything this holiday taste so much sweeter… Gratitude.
“WHOA! I thought that this was going to be a simple piece about how nutmeg is the secret to an awesome pumpkin pie!”
I know, this is sorta deep stuff when all you want to be thinking about is how to get this holiday done and everyone fed and happy. But what I have learned is the surest way to actually being happy and joyful is to practice gratitude. The truth is that practicing gratitude brings joy into our lives. What you focus on will expand. When you allow yourself to feel gratitude, concentrating on what you have, you will begin to have more.
I began my own gratitude practice this year. Maybe I watched one too many of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday’s or maybe I was just tired of feeling like I was missing something. I started to live with the idea that it’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.
So I’m presenting a challenge. This holiday season, maybe for the next 30 days, try to incorporate a couple of gratitude practices into your life and sit back and watch the internal shift. What I discovered was a greater compassion and understanding. So instead of being frustrated, you choose appreciation. The more grateful you become, the more you have to be grateful for. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
- Can’t be wrong when you write- Gratitude Journal- Every night list 5 things that you are grateful for. It can be ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life- As you look for moments to be thankful for; you will begin to see more and more of them in your daily life. Any way to journal is fine but I use an ipad app called My Gratitude Journal and it keeps me on task (http://happytapper.com/gratitude-journal)
- Pray Attention- Start your day with a grateful affirmation or prayer- Marianne Williams, a thought leader in spirituality and the author of A Course in Miracles, has developed several short non-denominational prayers. I enjoy her morning prayer. Check them out on Marianne’s website http://blog.marianne.com/prayer/archives/2004/11/morning_prayer.php
- Say Grace- One simple way to get the whole family in line with gratitude is to gather around the table each evening and say what you are grateful for. If your kids are participating, some responses could be as simple as “I’m grateful we didn’t have broccoli tonight” but other times you might hear something as meaningful as “I’m grateful that I have a mother like you.” Now that truly is a joy!
- Still the one- Try to sit still and meditate. Thinking about the one you are grateful to have in your life can actually lift your mood- Try a simple 3 minute guided gratitude mediation http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/04/meditation-on-gratitude_n_3894660.html
Good Read- Reading books on gratitude practice can be enlightening and offer further options on how to incorporate some useful practices. I enjoyed reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Ann Lamott, and The Four Agreements, by don Miguel
Because so many people tend to skip gratitude in their rush to get to living; or to get to the next big thing; or to simply get it all done, there is actually one day in the year set aside just for the purpose to get people to stop, remember all the gifts they do have, and to appreciate their lives. Take this time to show gratitude and you will be filled with joy. Not just on this day but for all the days you employ this practice. Happy Thanksgiving to all!