“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
— Thornton Wilder
As we approach another Thanksgiving—dining room tables heaped high with the obligatory turkey, taters, and trimmings, it’s difficult to ignore the struggle and challenge so many of us have faced this year. Alas, it’s been a year of more slicing and dicing of budgets and jobs than of crudités. So many have lost so much.
That’s why it is more important than ever that we focus on gratitude—the active process of paying attention to the blessings in our lives and expressing thanks. Granted, this may require a little more creativity and resourcefulness than usual, but it is so important. How powerful it is that seek the silver lining in our most difficult situations and feel genuinely grateful for the opportunities to learn and grow.
Admittedly, that sounds a little pop-psychological. You may be thinking, “Yea, Elaine, easier said than done.” And, I agree to an extent. My year has provided many “learning opportunities.” With an unexpected “professional reinvention,” the vicissitudes of life as a single mom with two teenage boys, a failed relationship, and critically ill family members—2009 has been no picnic.
But I am grateful for so much. The road to self-awareness can be arduous, disruptive, and painful, but it reaps generous rewards. I have excavated buried treasure (and some trash for immediate disposal) from the depths of my own psyche. And, I am grateful to be making new discoveries daily about what I really want and what I possess that I can express to make the world a better place. Wow, with almost a half a century under my belt, I’m finally starting to figure some of “it” out. As treacherous as the road has been, it’s been productive, indeed.
My remarkable boys, faithful friends, family, and church home are all on my gratitude list. I also appreciate you and your interest in my writing. This blog is my passion and my pleasure. It is astonishing. The unpredictable Circle of Life has truly spun me in an exhilarating, new direction this year. And I am convinced that gratitude has helped me. The challenge is allowing ourselves to see it amidst the noise, clutter, and confusion of our lives—to be fully present and consciously aware. It pays to practice gratitude; it can:
Improve relationships. Think about those people who let you know they appreciate you. Doesn’t their appreciation improve your relationships? Be grateful for people, and make sure you let them know how you feel.
Reduce negativity. It is hard to be negative about your situation when you are thinking about the positive aspects. One of the fastest ways to improve your mood or outlook is to count your blessings.
Improve problem-solving skills. When we think about a problem from the perspective of gratefulness, we open our minds up to new possibilities and connections. We enter a problem-solving situation with an attitude of opportunity rather than challenge or defeat.
Help us learn. Most dark clouds have a silver lining. Every problem can give birth to opportunity. Being grateful for your situation, even if you don’t like it, allows you to be thankful for the opportunity to learn something new.
Alleviate depression. Try writing five things you are grateful for each night before you go to sleep. You may just start to see a ray of light piercing through those gray clouds. Developing an attitude of gratitude is one of the most important things that you can do for attracting and manifesting the things that you desire into your life.
Life is a series of choices. It is a combination of proportion and perception, and we must be deliberate about consciously choosing gratitude. I surrender my feelings of negativity and despair. I embrace the viability of hope. I actively look for humor, abundance, and joy, and I allow others to reach out to me with their gifts of love, laughter, and healing. I signal the world that I am open, engaged, and committed to fostering the greater good—today and in the years ahead.
Blessings to you and your loved ones this Thanksgiving,