There is comfort in tradition. Most people thrive on stability and the predictable. There is something sustaining about the rhythms of the year and the traditions we enjoy around the holidays.
Thanksgiving is a time when we have the opportunity to slow down for a couple of days and take stock in the enormous and numerous blessings we enjoy each and every day. But it is more than that too. Gratitude is simply, yet powerfully, a way to perceive life and to cultivate a sense of wonder.
Gratitude is not something that you DO, but it is a way of being to cultivate. It is a level of consciousness and a way of perceiving the world. It is the ongoing ability to see the wonder and miracles all around. You can get distracted by so many things – the email pop-ups on your computer screen, “to do lists,” text messages, and Facebook notifications – so many things calling for your attention. But do you get distracted by wonder, beauty and possibility?
Here is a list of questions you can ask to test whether you are a grateful person:
- Do you tend to talk more about your hopes or your worries?
- If you experience a winter snowstorm – do you more revel in the beauty of winter or grumble that you have to shovel?
- Are you more likely to count your blessings or lament your challenges?
- If you were running late to catch a flight and just made it onto the plane on time, do you rejoice that you made it or grumble at the close call?
- Would others say that you are a grateful person?
Here are some facts to consider as you enjoy your Thanksgiving Day:
- If you awoke this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than 1 million people who will not survive the week.
- If you have never experienced the danger of war, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation you are more fortunate than 500 million people on earth.
- If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, twenty dollars in your pocket and a place to sleep you are richer than 75 percent of the world.
I learned from a Benedictine Monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast and later validated by Dr. Brene’ Brown in her research at University of Texas at Austin this important fact. It is not that people who have more joy, or who are happier experience more gratitude. It is quite the opposite – it is that people who practice gratefulness as a way of being experience more joy.
Being grateful produces joy.
May you be In-Joy as you focus on your blessings today.
PS… Here are some of the things I am grateful for as I reflect back on this year:
- The many students who participated in my work in Life Design, Life Mastery and Living a Transcendent Life
- The thousands of people I had the opportunity to speak to in many Unity Churches, at the Bayer Corporation, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, the Unity Canada community at their national convention, the Massachusetts National Association of Social Workers convention, the Air National Guard mentoring program, and so many other fine groups that I had the privilege to address this year.
- The camaraderie of my teammates and friends on the Massachusetts Miracles women’s basketball team
- The blessings of my precious family who are always the center of my world.