With the hustle and bustle of modern-day life, it is easy to lose sight of how fortunate we are. We have so much to be grateful for. Most people are grateful when good things happen to them: they get a promotion, a new job, a home, a new car, a raise or a nice gift. But this is actually backward. The first step to achieving true happiness is to be grateful for the many things we already have– that is, adopting an attitude of gratitude. This means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of our lives, on a regular basis.
Thanksgiving is a day that causes us to hit the pause button and bring all that gratitude to the forefront. But why focus on gratitude only on Thanksgiving?
According to Tamara Levitt, Head of Content at the meditation app, Calm, “gratitude is not always easy to access on a daily basis because our minds have a natural negativity bias.” Once we are aware of this, we can develop our ‘gratitude muscle’ and train it to notice the positive.
“Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf. If you do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished. To be grateful is to find blessings in everything.”— Alan Cohen
Levitt suggests we start with what is working in our lives, like, for example, our health. Even if we are sick or injured, we can still be grateful for the body parts that are working and for all the things we are still able to do… We can be grateful for our senses– our eyesight, hearing, touch– which allow us to connect with and enjoy the world around us… We can be grateful for family and friends, the people who brighten our existence, support us, and enrich our lives with laughter and love… We can be grateful for a warm home, delicious food on the table and creature comforts… And we can be grateful for our job or career, our passions, our talents, our creativity– all that brings meaning and purpose to our lives.
Gratitude can be found anywhere and everywhere, if we look for it. We can even find gratitude in the pain and loss we experience, in the challenges and obstacles we face. We can choose to view these struggles as gifts that broaden our experience, that teach us invaluable lessons, that open the door to new possibilities and that deepen our resilience, compassion and wisdom. It is not easy, but we can find gratitude for everything, large or small, in our lives. And this gratitude is readily available– not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day.
The snow falling outside that is causing dangerous roads and activities to be cancelled is, simultaneously, creating a beautiful, peaceful, winter wonderland outside my home. Today, I choose to be grateful for the snow.