If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.
Have you ever tried starting off your day with a moment of gratitude?
Of course, here on Thanksgiving, we are all sharing and expressing gratitude in abundance, so it feels omnipresent. But what about the other 364 days of the year?
Many of the self help gurus share that gratitude is the launching point for their daily experiences. Taking a few moments to feel appreciation for our health, and the health of friends and family, for the things in life that we are so lucky to have in our world and a deeper understanding of how all of these, in combination, drive us to an overall sense of happiness and fulfillment.
Gratitude becomes the focal point on Thanksgiving. It is a moment that has evolved from a whitewashing of what our ancestors did to the indigenous population of America and evolved into a holiday that commemorates collaboration, sharing, and overall appreciation and gratitude.
In the course of feeling gratitude, there comes a desire to share that feeling with others. For when we enter gratitude, it bathes us in a deep understanding of what we value most in life, and puts many of the unnecessary desires and expectations we have in life, into a real perspective from which we may more happily navigate our path on planet Earth.
John F. Kennedy said of gratitude: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” So, as Oprah reminds us that we will find our contentment in life through the recognition of what we have, rather than spending life pining for that which we do not have, Kennedy is quick to add that it is not enough to express such feelings, but to live by them on a daily basis.
Denis Waitley adds to that sentiment: “Happiness cannot be traveled to, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”
Collectively, these three sages encompass our overall sense of joy and fulfillment on our journey through the simple act of reflection on what is already in our world and recognizing that the deep appreciation of such is the key to really getting the greatest satisfaction in life.
A friend asked me to start my days with gratitude a few years back, when I was navigating a darker chapter of my life. At first, it was a tough ask, as I was feeling overwhelmed by life, stressed by circumstances not of my making, and trying to hold on with anything that I could. So the prospect of going to gratitude at that moment felt wrong and wholly counterintuitive.
I tried it any way. The first thing that I discovered when I let go of my “woe is me” mindset was that there were things that I was very grateful for. As I opened that door in my mind, many other things flooded my headspace. By the time I was finished, I recognized that there was much more that I felt grateful for than not. It was a stark awakening. And from that day forward, when I hit another tough patch, I open that door of gratitude and there are all the same shining things that greeted me previously. It was a rich closet in my mind for me to have found a pathway. One that has born great fruit, time and time again.
My favorite expression of gratitude, however, came from Albert Schweitzer who 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.”
I close today with my own moment of gratitude. Beyond all of the personal feelings I feel for my friends, loved ones, family, clients and collaborators, I feel a deep gratitude to all of you who are willing to read what I write during the year. I cannot find a core reason why it has become so important to me to spend an hour a day writing what I write, but for whatever reason, it has become a real practice of mine. I would have to say that if there were no one to communicate it to, the desire would dissolve, and the practice would stop. But in having people like yourselves who read and communicate back to me when you feel of mind to do so, I find that this delivers to me a richness in life that has helped me to unearth and articulate thoughts that may never have taken the time to make themselves apparent.
Wishing you and your families a day of great joy and deep appreciation of the things in life for which you feel most grateful. In the end, they are really the only things that matter in life. The rest is basically trinkets.