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.