In the United States, every November on the fourth Thursday of the month, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday because it’s a time when we get together with family, we enjoy a huge meal, and we express our thanks for our blessings. Oh, and we also watch a lot of American football. Thanksgiving is also the least commercialized of all our major holidays.
Thanksgiving traces its roots to a shared feast in 1621 between the European settlers and the indigenous people in the early days of European settlement in what is now North America.
Gratitude is Popular
It has recently become popular to talk about gratitude. There’s a Facebook gratitude challenge in which the participants express their gratitude daily for a period of time, often 30 days. Gratitude expression has also become a form of therapy associated with positive psychology used with people who are suffering from various neuroses. There’s even a form of meditation based on the expression of gratitude which I’ve discussed before, called Naikan in which you reflect on the things you’ve been given by others, the things you’ve given to others, and the troubles or difficulties you’ve caused others.
Talking About Gratitude
That all sounds great, but here’s the difficult part. It’s one thing to express gratitude, and that’s certainly important. It’s a whole other thing to develop a deep and abiding sense of gratitude, deep within your soul. The difference is this: Paying lip service to gratitude is only the first part of the process.
Gratitude Deep Within Your Soul
Developing a deep and abiding sense of gratitude deep within your soul requires daily practice, just like sports or music. Here are some things to consider doing:
- Keep a Journal. Keep a daily journal of your gifts, the things that people have given you, both of a material nature and those intangible things such as acts of kindness or important life lessons.
- Reflect at the Beginning of the Day. Start your day by spending a few minutes reflecting on the blessings of your life and repeat the process at the end of the day before you go to sleep.
- Reflect at the End of the Day. Also, at the end of each day, reflect on whether your actions throughout the day reflected a sense of gratitude or, instead, a sense of entitlement.
- Pause During the Day. Pause for moment during your busy day, perhaps over the noon hour, and spend time by yourself reflecting on the blessings of your life.
- Do it Every Day. Now, make these a daily practice.
In the presence of a deep and abiding sense of gratitude, it’s nearly impossible for neurotic thought processes to develop. Instead of being upset for what you don’t have or the bad things that may have happened to you, focus on the good things that have happened to you and the blessings you receive. Develop a sense of gratitude for the blessings in your life, even the smallest ones. The ancient wisdom, popularized recently, of the Law of Attraction really is true. We attract the things on which we focus.
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