In our busy lives, wouldn't it be nice if there was one simple thing we could do that would make everything else better? Well guess what — there is such a thing, and it is the simple daily practice of GRATITUDE!
Note: Parts of this article are adapted from the Eyres' new book, The Thankful Heart.
Is there one single quality, or attribute, or skill that could literally change your life and transform your family? Is there one magic thing that is,
The easiest gift to give
The noblest of virtues
The antidote to evil
The highest form of thought,
The multiplier of happiness,
YES, and that one magic thing is — GRATITUDE! Or, as we like to call it this time of year, Thanks-Giving!
And the amazing thing about it is that all we have to do to get it is to practice it.
Rabbi Harold Kushner suggested that all it takes to have gratitude is focus and concentration.
"Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted – a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul."
Basic gratitude is a skill we can learn through concentration and practice…a powerful, transformational skill that can change our whole lives and make our families more peaceful and more joyful.
If it is learned well enough, practiced long enough, it can become an attitude and an atmosphere, with which and in which we live — and live more fully.
Gratitude is an element that, though often hidden, is always present at least in traces, in every experience, every moment. Finding it, feeling it, and giving it is what we can practice.
Once located — which we can become good at — it is compatible, even symbiotic with every other emotion, and can shape-shift them all into something calmer, sweeter.
Irritation and annoyance with an adversary can transform into gratitude for new awareness of another perspective.
Disappointment with the weather can transform into gratitude for variety and unpredictable surprise and appreciation of beauty.
Fear of things we can't control or predict can transform into gratitude for serendipity.
Boredom with routine can transform into gratitude for stability and safety.
Vague appreciation for comfort and ease can transform into gratitude for small specifics like a storm window or a car that starts.
Even frustration with traffic and potholes can transform into gratitude for the government (imagine that) and the roads built for us.
Gratitude is better than appreciation. The latter might be nothing more than politeness, while the former has depth of feeling and expression.
Thanks-giving can become a skill, an aptitude, a talent, defined and deliberate and directed — developed by awareness, perspective and practice. It can be generated, gained, and given, and it is, as much as we want of it, within our power.
The simplest way to start working on it is to keep a gratitude journal — to write down the things you are grateful for every day.
Why not start working on it this Thanksgiving? And then keep it going and growing all during the year ahead.