Thanksgiving Day comes but once a year, but our gratitude can be with us through every day of every year.
I know people who say they have nothing to be grateful for, and I feel so sorry for them. We all have times when gratitude is at a low ebb. When we lose someone we love, get our hearts broken, have a financial setback, or face a terrifying illness, it’s tough to feel gratitude. But there is always some reason, even if it’s as basic as being thankful we can see or hear or speak.
It’s also true that with so much turmoil and pain in the world right now, some of us may have mixed feelings about allowing ourselves to feel grateful and enjoy what we have.
Why should we get to be happy when someone else is praying for the return of a loved one who is being held hostage?
Two reasons to have gratitude in spite of the pain in the world today:
First, our pain will not relieve their pain. You can’t cure someone’s illness by becoming sick and you can’t alleviate their poverty by becoming broke. You can’t dure their heartache by becoming heartsick yourself.
Second, every bit of joy and light you can bring into the world, the better. When you are grateful, you receive more to be grateful for. That’s wonderful, but is it a bit selfish? No, not really, because good feelings and gratitude are contagious. Smiles beget smiles, even if they’re small ones.
Depending upon the nature and severity of someone else’s pain, you might help to relieve it by giving them a kind word and a smile. And I can almost guarantee that if you cause someone else to smile, you’ll feel good about it.
Gratitude is important, especially right now.
This quote from a Political Insider article about the huge dollar cost of Thanksgiving this year says it well: “…it is more vital to find gratitude when things seem dark and lost than it is to do so when things are bright and easy.”
Gratitude is good for your health and your wealth.
According to studies done by the Mayo Clinic, “… feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease.”
Who doesn’t want to feel good and be healthy? No one I know!
But what does that have to do with your wealth?
Plenty. For starters, cheerful people attract other people – as in clients. We all like to do business with people who are smiling, cooperating, and being optimistic. When we answer a phone call, we like it when we can hear a smile in the voice of the person who called.
Next, if you’ve developed the gratitude habit, you’re naturally more cheerful, energetic, and enthusiastic. That means you set about doing your work with a positive attitude – and it gets done faster and easier.
Do you need a jump-start to feel grateful?
You have no doubt read the advice to start each day by writing a list of ten things you’re grateful for. But if you’re in the wrong frame of mind, you’ll think “Phooey on that!” Maybe you can’t even think of one reason for gratitude – especially if you had a restless night and woke up worried about something.
Life CAN sometimes turn any us into sourpusses, if we allow it.
So if you need a jump start, try this.
If you have the luxury of a hot shower in the morning, get under that wonderful hot water and start thinking about all the forces that came together to bring you that luxury. First there’s nature – you can thank God or Mother Nature (or whomever you choose) for the water. Then go on to all the people and products that went into bringing it hot to your shower. You could easily spend an hour on this if you got down to all the manufacturers, plus people who invented, made, and operate the machines that made the pipe. Then remember to give thanks for all the people and machines that brought it to the store. How about the ones who created the roads for the trucks to roll on?
If you don’t shower in the morning, choose something else. Your morning coffee, perhaps. You didn’t grow or harvest those coffee beans – or bring the water to your faucet. Give thanks for all the people and products that made that cup of coffee possible.
Be thankful for the little things.
There’s a meme that goes around now and then that I really love. It goes something like this:
- I’m grateful that I need to cook dinner, because it means there is food in the pantry and people I love to eat the food I cook.
- I’m grateful that I need to fold the laundry because it means we have clothes to wear.
- I’m grateful for my housekeeping chores because it means I have roof over my head.
- I’m grateful that I have to drive the kids to their activities because it means my children are healthy and active.
- I’m grateful that my alarm clock will get me up early in the morning, because it means I have a job that supports me and my family.
I’m sure you can think of plenty of your own – little tasks that you might not enjoy, but you get to do them because of other good things in your life.
And speaking of what you get to do…
Here’s one more attitude-changing exercise you can start right now…
Think of whatever task is ahead of you today. Then, instead of thinking “I have to…,” think “I get to….”