Thanksgiving has left me full of gratitude… for my children, a new friend and his family, old friends, extended family, work colleagues, how abundantly my basic needs are met. With this appreciative feeling is a sincere desire to give something back. It’s a gratefulness that inspires a sense of obligation. Not a burdensome externally imposed obligation, but; a sense of indebtedness that is felt within to those who have supported, cared for, and provided gifts that have lent to making my life possible. This is the attitude that keeps my cup half full and then some. Did you feel something similar this Thanksgiving? Would you like to?
Think of a time that you hit a rough patch or survived what may have felt like a tsunami. Think back to the people that seemed to be sent your way only to re-ignite your faith and keep you from hopelessness. Who are those people in your life who deserve your gratitude for supporting you when you needed it most? The Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Albert Schweitzer, once said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Sometimes, in this consumer oriented culture we can get caught up in complaining about what we don’t have as oppose to what we do have. We may complain about the qualities not present in a person instead of appreciating all the gifts they do possess. People like to know they are appreciated, but did you know that expressing gratitude benefits not only the receiver but the one giving the thanks. Research demonstrates that authentic gratitude for what we have can increase our levels of well-being, happiness, energy, optimism, and empathy.
A helpful exercise to do to see your half empty cup become half full and then some is to keep a gratitude journal. Every day write down three to five things that you are grateful for on that particular day. Do this for a month and watch your spirits lift.
One thought to “Giving Thanks”
I needed to read this today. The times surrounding the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday were certainly trying to say the least. The first week of that month my family was given the news that my Grandfather’s days were numbered. Having lost my Grandmother a year and a half before, I was not familiar with this type of experience. I was extremely Thankful for having the big and complete family I had. At the beginning of November, I also started the task of writing something or someone I was thankful for and sharing it with all of my social media followers. I began doing this because it was simply for the “fun” of it but I did not realize how much I was personally going to need to do this exercise to help myself and family. At first it started off being thankful for my best friends, the fact that I had a job and items like that. Don’t get me wrong, I am not any less thankful for those people or things but when my family received the news of my Grandfather’s poor health, my family became what I was most thankful for. I began sitting at the hospital just observing what was happening. All of the love that filled the room, the unconditionalness of my family members towards each other and the eagerness to help during these times was something I had never experienced before! This behavior continued through his passing, funeral arrangements, and finally his service. It was such a warming feeling and almost overwhelming. I think it takes times like these that make you truly thankful for what you have in your life. Physical writing down the items that I was thankful for also helped me see things that weren’t so obvious, that I was thankful for too.