As Americans gear up for the holiday season (and we start earlier and celebrate longer than most!), there is holiday of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an excuse to gorge on lots of great food, watch the game and spend time with family and friends. It is the one day of the holiday season where the trappings of gift-giving are suspended and we just spend time with one another. It is a day to be Thankful for the blessings we have received. Yet, that very night (if not 5:30 the next morning) we run out and participate in the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, and start buying stuff -- mostly things we don't need.
This morning, while tooling about on a social networking site, I saw cute meme after cute meme as we all do. I stopped at one that made me think. It said: Don't put the keys to your happiness in someone else's pocket. I thought to myself that this is the secret of our unhappiness. We look outside of ourselves for things, people, and situations for our happiness instead of looking within and finding things in our lives for which we should be grateful. Counting our blessings is only part of finding peace through gratitude. We see them, recognize them as good things, but rarely do we think to appreciate what we have.
Then I started thinking. In today's world it is very simple to lose sight of what we have while we're searching this life to find happiness. We all know we should be thankful. We should be thankful for the things we have and the people we love and who love us. Yet, being "thankful" isn't quite the same thing as being "grateful." Being grateful is appreciating what we have and those who are in our lives. It's easy to be thankful, but a bit more difficult to make the effort in expressing gratitude.
It is easy to be thankful and express gratitude when things are wonderful. When we have that special romantic partner in our lives, our children are being ideal, the bills are getting paid and our careers are going great. It's harder to be thankful and express gratitude when life gets complicated. Yet this is exactly the right time to be grateful.
How do we turn our energies to peace through gratitude? We can begin by changing our minds.
- Every time you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, turn it around and think of two things in your life you are grateful for.
- Take notice of your day. Even on a bad day remind yourself of the good things in your life, both tangible and intangible.
- Spread some gratitude. Give a deserving person a compliment. This changes not only your energy but brightens their day.
- Vow not to listen to or spread gossip or rumors. This kind of energy reflects negatively and weighs you down and gives you a false sense of being better off or better than someone else.
- Value those in your life by telling them you value them. Thank them for all the small things they do. This creates a bond of gratitude and communicates that you don't take that person for granted.
Most important of all: In a bad situation, look at what you can learn from the situation. Be grateful for the opportunity to learn from it.
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