With Thanksgiving upon us, my thoughts have been turned toward traditions. We all have different ways of showing and expressing our gratitude. The family on one of our favorite T.V. shows has a gratitude list where everyone contributes to a running list during the week of Thanksgiving. Others I know keep a gratitude journal for the month of November to reflect on the good in their lives. Our family goes around the Thanksgiving table and gives everyone a minute to express their gratitude about something from the last year. Sometimes the list is the same, sometimes there is something new.
I feel grateful for a Holiday that reminds me to show gratitude, but I wonder why is it that my appreciation for the good so easily blends into the background of my life rather than being the motivating and driving force. Our society, in general, seems to have lapsed into a state of ingratitude. We often take for granted the blessings and comforts we enjoy reverting to more of an attitude of self-satisfaction and entitlement. I don’t think this is deliberate. When we really think about it we want to be more grateful, but it is difficult to consistently feel gratitude when our trials and burdens can seem so overwhelming.
I’m reminded of a song written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman, Jr. The words speak of the hope gratitude can offer.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
It seems like an easy solution. Count your blessings = comfort, joy and happiness. The science of the concept is proving to be true. New studies are popping up each year verifying that a person’s efforts to show and express their gratitude on a regular basis have a positive effect on their overall well-being. Findings show “thankfulness, or gratitude [is] a powerful instigator of better mental health, more positive brain function, and associated health benefits.”
At the start of this holiday season, I’ve decided to take a step back and contemplate my own personal traditions, and have come up with a new one – to find something each day to feel grateful for and then find a way to express it. This year Thanksgiving will not just be one day of gratitude, but one of 365 days. We can all make a choice to be grateful, to express our appreciation, and to look for the good. It is difficult to remain overwhelmed with the negativity that surrounds us daily if we have gratitude in our hearts.
I felt inspired after watching this video and hope it might help you too! Happy Thanksgiving!
 Korb, Alex Ph.D. “The Grateful Brain.” Psychology Today. November 20, 2012. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain
Thorpe, JR. “6 Ways Gratitude Affects Your Brain.” Nov. 13,2015. https://www.bustle.com/articles/123590-6-ways-gratitude-affects-your-brain
#ChoosingWisdom #ShareGoodness #AttitudeOfGratitude
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Will you allow life to teach you or defeat you