Imagine my delight when reminded of the definition of ‘Thanksgiving.’ It’s more than just a holiday; it means the ‘expression of gratitude.’ Such a simple definition may seem unremarkable initially, but I invite you to dig into this with me.
Why Gratitude is Important
In the last twenty years, a remarkable body of research has demonstrated that all things profoundly good flow from gratitude. While the elusive experience of happiness is complex to capture directly, gratitude is one of the most direct and potent paths for leading a happy life. The more we seek to appreciate everything we possibly can, the more we find happiness emerges. Why so?
When we appreciate our life and the moment before us, gratitude arises naturally. When that happens, we are inoculated against complaints and negativity; we can’t have two emotional states simultaneously! We can’t be in a state of appreciation and find negativity. One state precludes the occurrence of the other. It’s a beautiful thing.
And this is critical; if we allow our hearts to open to gratitude, the emotion flows more deeply, and we feel it profoundly. The research is clear: the more we move into gratitude, the more happiness and optimism emerge in our lives. And who doesn’t want more happiness?
Some cynics suggest they are satisfied being curmudgeons and don’t want to be ‘naïve.’ They believe that happiness is for the ill-informed. They fight to justify and argue for those critical, negative, and judgmental thoughts that bring them misery. That’s okay. Those folks will not read this article.
The Inoculation Lasts Only if We Remain Grateful
The effects of stepping into gratitude create this momentary inoculation, which remains active for a while. However, we must keep nurturing these grateful moments for a more pervasive experience of ease and happiness.
In other words, a moment of gratitude does not make a happy life! We need to practice and nurture ongoing appreciation!
How do you build a robust sense of gratitude?
Here’s the key: It’s all perspective that we can ultimately control. In almost any situation, you can CHOOSE to focus on some aspect of life to appreciate. Or you can complain and create more emotional drama.
Either is in your control, of course. Many factors may encourage you to focus on something you dislike, don’t believe in, or want to change. That’s fine. We live in a world where others often dictate what gets our attention. And usually, this is for purposes that have nothing to do with our happiness or the happiness of our family.
But remember that you pay the emotional price.
Alternatively, there is always something there for us to appreciate, but only if we control what gets our attention. And learning this lesson allows us to move toward the master of our emotions. If we can control what captures our mental attention, we can control our internal emotions and life satisfaction.
So, consider this: You could start practicing gratitude for every part of life. Everything we have could be regarded as a gift if we open our perceptions and hearts to be appreciative.
Thanksgiving: The Expression of Gratitude
Recall our beginning and the actual definition of Thanksgiving. It is the EXPRESSION of gratitude. Thus, I invite you to consider how much you could be that voice, that person, that messenger delivering ‘Thanks-giving’ to your world. Be that world large or small, you can choose to appreciate more and express every ounce of that gratitude to others. Happy Thanksgiving.