I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
This Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the U.S. It’s a time for families to get together, eat too much food, and tell stories. It’s also a time when our minds and hearts turn towards the theme of gratitude, giving thanks for all that we have in our lives.
In my family, before driving our forks into the season-mandatory turkey and mashed potatoes, we have a tradition of holding hands and going around the table, taking turns stating what each person is grateful for. It’s a simple, but tear-inducing ritual, and our hearts fill with gratitude for our family members, for our love relationships, for our children, our health, our warm, dry homes, and—of course—the bounty on the table. It’s also a time for laughter, as the youngest often come up with wonderfully mundane items to be thankful for: “I’m thankful for my legos,” one child says proudly; or, “I’m thankful I don’t have school,” says another.
Each time we speak our gratitude, I’m amazed by the shift in attitudes and feelings I observe in myself and the people around me. In the rush of cleaning house and bringing food to the table it’s easy to temporarily forget a sense of thankfulness, but it takes only a word or two to bring it back, lifting the entire atmosphere to a new level. It really doesn’t take much effort for gratitude to do its magic.
Which is why I recommend keeping a daily gratitude practice. And by that, I mean taking a moment and speaking or writing (or both) one thing for which you are grateful. Things we normally take for granted, like a cup of hot coffee or central heating, take on new power and significance.
Practicing gratitude focuses us on what we have rather than what we have not, a lot like looking at every glass and deciding that it’s 1/2 or 3/4 full rather than 1/2 or 1/4 empty. Think how differently we might might experience our lives by simply shifting our thoughts from all the things we have to do and all the things we don’t have, to all the accomplishments and possessions and relationships we already have.
One gratitude statement per day keeps the blues away—and it’s hard to write just one. But the great thing is, you don’t need to. So go ahead and fly on the wings of thankfulness! It certainly can’t hurt, and it can do a lot to help.
In this moment, I am grateful to have such a great community of writers and readers. What are you grateful for today?