I think it’s pretty awesome that most of us have a Holiday all about gratitude. I also think it’s unfortunate how crazy things can get for some people, so much so that often feeling thankful is the last thing being thought about. All the chaos of travel around the Holidays, being with family, or not being with family, etc. can often keep some of us from fully remembering to count our blessings or feel appreciative of the gifts in our life.
My family has a tradition where we hold hands and each say what we are thankful for before Thanksgiving dinner. It’s really the only time we do that and it’s rather lovely. I can’t remember when I stopped “saying grace” before a meal, but it’s not a general practice for me. Perhaps in part because it became a recitation of a prayer that had no real meaning.
I wonder how many people make appreciation and gratitude a part of their daily life. I confess I haven’t been one. As a matter of fact, when I was writing on retreat last month, I wrote a topic heading for Gratitude but then skipped to the next section without writing anything about it. I knew it was important enough to include, however I wasn’t in a feeling space to complete it.
I do remember a period of time where I was committed to keeping a daily gratitude journal. Each night before bed I would write a list of things in it. One night, as I was doing this exercise, I realized I was doing it out of some sense of duty and was no longer actually FEELING the sense of thankfulness. With this realization I recognized that the practice alone no longer had any meaning.
I know just speaking the words or writing them down doesn’t hold nearly as much power as the feeling so I stopped. However, I now question if even writing the words and keeping up with that practice was better than doing nothing at all. It was clear to me the most powerful thing is to do both.
I am aware of how often the blessings in my life are taken for granted. Simple things like my vision, my health, having a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in at night are often overlooked. Often it takes the absence of something to recognize what a gift it had been. If you’ve ever sprained an ankle or broken a bone to where you needed to walk with crutches, you quickly realize how the simple act of being able to walk is worthy of thankfulness.
As I reflect on this time of the year, I am remembering to pause long enough to stop and think about all the good around me. Yet thinking about it isn’t enough – I also want to make sure I remember to actually FEEL that deep down sense of gratitude. When I can combine both the mental with the physical, I know I am creating a vibration that will then attract more good things to me.
I challenge myself to stop before each meal and spend a little time in this feeling of giving thanks. Not just for the bounty I am about to receive, but for all the other big and little things in my life that often get overlooked. Perhaps by pairing this practice with something I do every day, it will be more likely to actually happen.
As we move into the day of Thanksgiving, I hope you too will challenge yourself to think about the blessings in your life. Feel the sense of gratitude and see if you can hold it at various times throughout the day. I am fairly certain as we look for things that for which to be thankful, more good things will come our way.