I love the name of tomorrow's holiday. The giving of thanks, to be grateful, to appreciate ... these have become powerful tools of transformation in my life. On their namesake day, I invite you to take some time to focus on what you can be grateful for in your life. Whether you do a list on paper or in your head, if you do it, it will make your day better. According to an article sent to me by a friend this morning, you will feel happier: "Research suggests that becoming more grateful could make each of us 25% happier -- and that being happy is the key to a longer, more successful life."
Contrast is a good way to recognize and appreciate the boons we often take for granted. Some years back after a major hurricane, my neighborhood was without electricity for twelve days. Which is fine if you are camping or living in the highlands, but very challenging in humid south Florida in August. Today, whenever I notice that the light goes on in my refrigerator, I smile. Thank you, Mr. Refrigerator, thank you Florida Power and Light. I can turn on heat or air conditioning as needed. I can listen to music, go online and learn things and connect with people that I care about. I have a phone, and I can walk, and I can see, I can knit socks, I can talk, I can love.... The times that I could not do these things make me so grateful for the times that I can.
The article goes on to say that "gratitude increases our sense of connection to other people. Having strong relationships is the single best predictor of happiness, and our relationships become stronger when we acknowledge the support we receive from those around us..... Gratitude also buffers us from envy, resentment and regret, emotions that inhibit happiness." From Robert A. Emmons, PhD, professor of psychology, University of California, Davis.
Sometimes those unpleasant emotions do show up, and when they do they have a message for us. They are giving us information, guiding us about our choices . And we get to choose how long we want to hang out with the messenger, or whether we want to make other choices. The best way I have found to gain the energy and motivation necessary to move forward with the information is to focus on something that I am grateful for, even if I am not feeling grateful at that moment. I choose to practice gratitude in order to be able to feel it, to choose how I want to feel in this moment. That shift in focus reminds me that wonderful things have happened and are happening in my life and it allows me to vibrate at an emotional level that invites more of the same.
So whether you do it as a family ritual around the dinner table, or silently in your mind, count your blessings this day. If you are reading this, odds are good you have electricity. And if you make gratitude a habit, you will always have something to smile about.