In honor of Thanksgiving and the holidays, I want to talk about gratitude.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably rolling your eyes. If you are, I get where you’re coming from. “Gratitude” is a word that’s thrown around so much nowadays, but it’s scarcely promoted. We do not live in a very gratitude-centered society. By nature, people can be kind of greedy, and not in a mean-spirited way. It’s a survival instinct! We want to have more of everything because that makes us feel secure. Oftentimes, that tendency makes us miserable.
This is ridiculous, but I was inspired by a sign I found in the home decor section of Kohl’s. It said something like this: “When what you have is enough, you have everything you need.” I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s important so I want to really drive it home. We are wired to look on the horizon. It is not in our nature to stop and appreciate what we have…and that behavior causes so much unnecessary pain.
I know I’m going to get called out on this, so I want to throw out a screaming disclaimer and say I am the most guilty of this. As someone who has always been driven by “the next thing,” the concept of sitting and being grateful for what’s already in my life is almost uncomfortable. It’s taken a lot of patience for me to really learn how to embrace what is in the present moment. Maybe that was the entire purpose of me going through yoga teacher training- I’m not sure. But I can promise that gratitude isn’t uncomfortable for me anymore- it’s attractive!
I’m saying all of this because gratitude is hard! It’s not natural and it takes a lot of practice. I suppose that’s why people suggest keeping gratitude journals, or writing down things each day you’re thankful for. But taking that further, I believe what’s truly important is incorporating gratitude in times when you wouldn’t necessarily feel thankful. Let me explain what I mean: it’s a lot easier to write down in your gratitude journal that you’re thankful for your car that takes you where you need to go, rather than actually believing you’re thankful for it when someone cuts you off in traffic. But that’s the most pivotal moment, I think- when something so frustrating happens and you find it in your heart to not just tolerate it, but embrace it. That is real gratitude- implementing it in your everyday life. That’s when you truly feel it. And that’s not to say you don’t truly feel gratitude when you keep a list. Of course that’s important, too. We can really shift our perspective when we turn our attention in a way that’s more constructive. It’s not our first instinct. When a loud noise wakes us up from a peaceful sleep, our first reaction is probably annoyance: not, “I’m so glad I was woken up because it means I have the ability to hear.”
It takes time to learn to appreciate what we have, but so vital to our happiness. And I think this goes deeper than just materialism- being grateful for who we are, where we are in life, etc. Those things mean a lot more than material things.
This was kind of ramble-y but I was hit with inspiration so I thought I’d share. And the final point I want to make is that gratitude and acceptance go hand-in-hand. It’s hard to have one without the other…and it’s always a work in progress. 😉
Thanks for reading! 🙂