I grew up in a household where “please” and “thank you” were mandates. I did not, however, grow up learning the importance of gratitude as a consistent practice. While it has become cliché to hear of “the attitude of gratitude” I believe it is far more a practice than an attitude. It is a cultivated state of being. It is, like joy, independent of circumstances. It is a lens and a perspective. The more we practice residing in a grateful state of being the more we see life in thankfulness and appreciation.
My life experience has taught me that I do not know enough to not be grateful. While my desires, preferences, and circumstances are often not to my liking it does not deter me from choosing to see life through an aperture of thankfulness. Many of what I thought were the worst scenarios of my lifetime turned out to bring forth the biggest blessings.
Every loss in my life has been turned into a gain when I chose to seek out the blessing in it. Everything I didn’t understand and did not welcome bore fruit of goodness when I stopped fighting and complaining and chose to look for that good. Everything that I thought would take me down for the last time lifted me up when I uttered, through clenched teeth, “thank you.”
When I am spiritually awake, I am grateful with my life as is. When I am unconscious or disconnected, I am waiting for something to be grateful for. One is inner-directed, and one is externally driven. It is a moment to moment choice, and the felt-sense of it is unmistakable.
Gratitude is its own reward.
Culturally I often think the holiday should be called “Thanks-getting.” We tend to place our focus of what we get or have to be grateful for. While this is an aspect of gratefulness it is again circumstantial. Thanksgiving for me is GIVING thanks FROM a lens of thankfulness and grace. It is subjective and contextual. And this perspective is extraordinarily attractive as well. When we simply thank life for being life we are flooded with blessings and abundance.
The most meaningful Thanksgiving I ever had I was alone and bereft. While I had the needed essentials, I had been stripped of what I felt mattered most. My world had shattered, and my heart was broken. By some miracle of grace, I was able to mutter thank you. I was led to see through the mire, to see what I still had inside of me. I was guided to experience deeply the God in my heart, a God more readily felt through the shattered opening in my Soul. There was nothing on the table and yet everything was before me.
Today my life is so full. Blessings abound.
Are there challenges? You bet. And I thank them. I know they are miracles in potential. I know when I choose to bless them the inherent blessing will blossom forth. What I appreciate appreciates. Thankfulness expands. Gratitude grows.
And so, I live giving thanks. I bless, and I am blessed. Thanks-giving for me is indeed thanks-living. My heart is so full it simply must overflow.
Happiest Thanks-giving. I am thankful for you.