November 23rd 2009 - “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
Now is the season for giving thanks and recognizing what you are grateful for. But how do you do that sincerely when things aren’t going so well? Maybe you are struggling in this down economy or have a family member who is difficult to be around. Why even bother? Isn’t Thanksgiving just another excuse to eat too much, spend money, feel obligated to travel and other less-than-uplifting scenarios? Well, it certainly can be all of those things, but I firmly believe that any day is what you make of it and traditional holidays are no different.
Much has been made lately of the power of gratitude. Several years ago Oprah Winfrey encouraged her viewers to keep a gratitude journal and motivational speakers of every sort are touting the importance of thankfulness. But it’s not a new idea that gratitude is a powerful practice. The ancient Roman statesman, Cicero, who died in 43 BC said, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”
Every life is made up of both triumphs and challenges, but when we choose to focus more of our attention on the celebrations, it allows us to further build on those, rather than get too bogged down by the parts that are proving difficult. During challenging times, it may be seem that there is less to celebrate, but that is exactly the place where being in a grateful mindset is most valuable. You are largely responsible for creating your own reality, and it will be a more pleasant one, no matter what your circumstances, if you are continually conscious of all your blessings. Here are some suggested things to celebrate or be thankful for in any season:
Accomplishments - things that you have worked hard to bring to fruition.
Pennies From Heaven - random good fortune such as wonderful weather or a stranger’s kindness.
The Basics - things that we often easily take for granted, such as electricity, food, and a warm place to sleep.
Relationships - family, friends, pets, mentors, teachers - either from the past or present.
Experiences - things that have changed you. This could be a trip to the Grand Canyon or something less obvious, such as going through a serious illness.
Your Problems - what insights, contrasts (knowing more clearly about what you do want by experiencing the opposite) or growth opportunities have your problems provided you?
When you are thankful not only for the obvious joys of time spent with loved ones and delicious food, but also feel grateful for the things you might not have picked if allowed to choose, life is more peaceful and more wondrous. Getting in the habit of gratitude is a practice to be developed like any other. Start or end each day noticing 5 things for which you are thankful and before long you will understand for yourself what Thorton Wilder says about being truly alive.
GreatDoor Shamanic Soul Work and Coaching
Frisco, Texas 75034