On my way home from work yesterday I noticed a sign outside a church that read, “giving thanks is more than a day…” I don’t know why, but I thought about the simple, yet profound statement several times last night.
How often we do just that, right? Thanksgiving may be the only time some families gather around the table to offer prayers of gratitude. Families preferring a less formal and intimidating tradition may give everyone around the table a turn to tell what they are grateful for or put notes of gratitude in a basket and read them aloud; we are not at a loss to find creative ways to give thanks during the holidays since the advent of Pinterest. Simple traditions like these put a smile in our hearts, even if only for a day.
What if we adopted a daily attitude of gratitude? The phrase has become a bit cliche, for sure, but the point is gratitude needs to be a lifestyle rather than reserved for a time of year. Gratitude is a practice of looking for and acknowledging the blessing in everything. Gratitude can be as simple as waking and being grateful for the new day, or a new opportunity to live life with purpose. I started a practice of gratitude, in earnest, several weeks back and I have to say I am more positive overall, more content with what I have and looking forward to what I am working toward. That’s really the thing about gratitude; it changes our thinking and our perspective. Living life from beneath an umbrella of gratitude we are given the opportunity to see the world and our place in the world, and gratitude bestows on us a renewed appreciation for all we have.
Too often we focus on what we don’t have, what we haven’t accomplished, what we can’t do, the flaws in our physical appearance, in other words, what we lack. Lack-thinking keeps us stuck in a rut, running round and round on the gerbil wheel of life and going nowhere. Negativity sets in, our world becomes a dark, lonely existence, we believe no one understands our misery, or pain, the hardships and days of uncertainty we have faced. The reality is everyone faces hardship, everyone has some level of misery in life whether short-lived or longer, no one escapes. Bad comes into all of our lives at one time or another. How we choose to view the hardships and misery, the pain and uncertainty is our choice.
Pain, loss, hardships are difficult times for everyone, and we are not expected to smile and laugh our way through difficult times. We can look for the silver lining, the rainbow in the hardship or loss, we can take away valuable life lessons from difficult times once we have had time to process, grieve, or regroup. On the other side of the hardship, we have the opportunity to look for the blessing hidden within the time of difficulty. Have you recently lost a loved one? Trust me, there is a blessing even within a loss so great. The blessing is often subtle, hidden behind the veil of pain, but it’s there and may be as simple as having had the blessing of the loved one, if only for a time.
As we go through life, we forget the miracles in every moment of every day; we take life and all that it has to offer for granted. Even if we aren’t facing a difficult or challenging time at the moment, waking each morning with gratitude on our lips keeps our focus on the little miracles of daily life. When you opened your eyes this morning, could you see? Were you able to get out of bed and walk to the kitchen to start the coffee pot? Do you have a job to go to today? Is there food in the pantry, gas in your car, do you have clean clothing? Is your heart still beating and is there the smallest glint of hope in the coming days? Offer gratitude…..
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