Of all 52 weeks in the year, this is the one when Americans reflect the most on gratitude.
It’s hard not to when you sit down at a beautifully decorated table, in front of a mouth watering feast that typically includes a succulent, roasted turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, candied yams, piping hot green bean casserole, chestnut stuffing, cranberry sauce… hungry?
Gratitude, just like delicious food, fills us up. Only it fills our souls not our bellies.
If you’re ready to use Thanksgiving as a springboard to deepen your gratitude practice, here are 3 ways:
1. Attitude of Gratitude
Normally, when we think about gratitude and applying it into our lives, this is what we do.
Having an attitude of gratitude is all about appreciation for the things in your life. Many people make lists of what they’re grateful for. Yours might include: a reliable/new car, your job, family, health, etc. Perhaps you’re also grateful for the glorious sunset, an incredible piece of music, that sweet parking space!
Typically, adopting this attitude is a reaction, a response to life.
It’s choosing to look at the blessings you have in your life rather than all the things you don’t have or wish you had.
If you want to go a step further, you can adopt a philosophy of gratitude. This becomes like an orientation, a way of experiencing life.
In a way, it’s a change of prepositions. It’s going from “to” to “for.” Here’s what I mean.
Most people believe that life happens to them. If this is your mindset, it’s easy to feel like a victim. You lost your seat on the bus. Your co-worker gossiped about you and now you feel awkward in the office. You can’t seem to land the job of your dreams.
When you change the preposition, it shifts the perspective. Life happens for you.
What opportunity has life brought you to learn and grow?
When we shift into thinking that the goal of earth school is to learn, then everyone and everything that happens is an opportunity for growth.
Now, when a conflict arises say, with someone at work, you can ask: What is the lesson in this for me? What do I need to learn?
Think about a person or situation that created conflict for you and look at it through this lens. How was it asking you to grow?
Was it about speaking your truth? Being in integrity? Asking for what you deserve? Setting healthy boundaries?
Adopting a philosophy of gratitude helps us experience thankfulness for our lives.
The last and deepest place to go with gratitude is the notion that you can embody gratitude. That gratitude is you.
Think about these three attributes like layers. The attitude of gratitude is like the frosting, the outer shell. It’s how we begin to re-orient and see the world - by actively choosing what we focus on.
As you incorporate that “seeing” more and more into your life, then it evolves into a philosophy, a way of life. You see how every thing and everyone is an opportunity for growth and you have thanks for the learning.
Deepening your philosophy and moving through life with this new orientation, gratitude gradually become who you are until you’re actually identified with gratitude. Now gratitude is at your core level and it radiates out from you because it is you.
It’s the recognition that you are what you seek. It’s the celebration of life and the awe and wonder of being alive.
I am grateful to all of you and I wish you a happy and healthy holiday week and a beautiful Thanksgiving! Enjoy!