Giving thanks has been on our minds and lips all week, culminating in today’s feast, celebrating the abundance we are reminded to observe. We take a short break from thinking about all the voids in our lives and feel gratitude for the things between those voids. There is no aspect of life more worthy of a holiday than gratitude, which is why I am breaking my hiatus and blogging about this sacred gift we have: the ability to feel grateful.
If you asked me a month ago what I thought gratitude meant (kind of a 3rd grade question), I would say that it meant being thankful, being aware of all the things you are lucky enough to have. Not too bad, right? Today my answer is different. Today, I say, gratitude is an action word and a way of life. I thought I was thankful by passively noticing what I have: the people, the qualities, the job, the clothes, but this never did much for me, this list. If anything I felt more angered by how naïve and ultimately ineffective this act was. It wasn’t until I heard the gratitude pros speak that I truly knew how to express (and reap the rewards of) gratitude.
Last week I went to a work-related author event for the book Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude. I went the week before as well, but decided I couldn’t miss the all-star lineup of this second event (not to mention I wanted to get my book signed this time). The co-author, Nina Lesowitz, spoke alongside poet and novelist Alan Kaufman and author and filmmaker Phil Cousineau. Each speaker demonstrated a whole new way of “living life as a thank you” and why this attitude of gratitude is so vital to them.
For Nina, it is a conscious choice to do a mental version of stop, drop, and roll. Catching yourself in a funk is hard enough, but Nina encourages you to find the strength, no matter how skeptical you are, to flip your funk. This kind of self-discipline requires practice, but the results will be well worth it.
Alan spoke about the life-saving nature gratitude practice has on his life. As a man in recovery, possessing a constructive attitude towards life is vital. In fact, for him his life depends on it. From being homeless and eating out of a dumpster to being an internationally acclaimed author whose words speak right to your soul, Alan is living proof of the wonders of gratitude.
Phil offers yet another experience of gratitude. Waiting for gratitude to enter your life, sweep you off your feet, and carry you into the sunset isn’t quite how it works. He urges us to give our attention to the multitude of miracles that constitute our daily lives that often go unnoticed.
When I heard Nina, Alan, and Phil tell their personal stories, each rang true for me, made me laugh, made me cry, and made me feel grateful.
I consider myself a generally happy person, but since I’ve been trying to make gratitude a daily practice, I’m surprised to find myself elated. It’s not that I’m happier, I just feel more easy going, more generous, less angry, less rushed…the list continues.
I hope this movement continues with me and with you. Be grateful and see how differently the world begins to look and even act.
I’ve found that I’m most grateful for the ability to feel grateful. It’s such a precious gift, I hope we remember to cherish it and use it.