Years ago, it was Oprah who told us first to jot down every night before bed five things we were grateful for. She praised the practice as an instant mood-booster; a gift of a deeper sense of peace for the practitioner; and, as a way for one to think more objectively about their circumstances. Indeed, it is a way to step back, look at the good, and–for a moment–to silence the bad. You can find that even in the worst of circumstances there’s always something good to be found. In an instant, you transcend, bless, and forgive your circumstances–whatever they are. You make more room in your heart for peace–you invite it in and you welcome it.
As you focus on the good, of what you are grateful for, you rewire and train your brain to think more positively.
Scientists even study the physical health benefits! In an age where everyone wants to be happier and happier, as our lives get busier and busier, as we try to squeeze out as much time as we can, practicing gratitude is the simplest way for us to reimagine our lives.
As we practice gratitude, we begin to reframe and refocus our life on what matters. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for another day. I’m thankful for my pet. I’m thankful for the sun, the sky, and the moon. I am thankful for this post. I’m thankful. I’m thankful for having things to be thankful about!
This introspective practice changes our life from the day-to-day routine and monotony and draws us to life’s highest purposes. Shifting our lives from the mundane to the beautiful. From the norm to the exceptional. They are little things. The little things that matter. The kind words your boss spoke to you. The beauty and necessity of nature, which we all take for granted.
Little spoken about, however; is the relationship between gratitude and giving.
By definition, the word gratitude is not just showing appreciation, but also a “readiness to return kindness.” A readiness to return kindness! That means there is a link between gratitude and giving, but the dictionary is sure to tell that it is different from indebtedness. Indebtedness feels obligatory. There’s something special about the cultivation of gratitude that makes us eager (or ready) to return kindness. When we practice an internal gratitude, we are ready to return kindness to ourselves and to our world–to our families, our friends, and (often last on the list) to our communities.
Gratitude is magic. It silences the insatiable wanting. It stops (or at least pauses) any malice. It fuels giving.
On Thursday, gratitude is officially celebrated in America. At Thanksgiving, our annual practice of gathering in the spirit of gratitude, we will all go around the table and say what we are thankful for–and our hearts will open a little to give more. Beyond Thursday, let’s make gratitude a daily practice. An hourly practice. A momentary practice. The benefits are not just for ourselves, as the meditation gurus, scientists, and psychologists tell us, but also for those whom our practice calls us to bless.
Today, I do not ask you to give to anyone. I ask you to be grateful for something and watch what happens.
Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful for you, reader.
P.S. – Even the name of our holiday understands the relationship! Thanks – Giving!