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By Moira Fitzpatrick, PhD, ND
Thanksgiving is the time of year when we pause and remember those people for whom we are thankful. We celebrate abundance, share food and lively conversation. We remember the feeling of connection and gratitude for those who are in our lives.
Gratitude is the quality of thankfulness. It is a feeling that spontaneously emerges from the heart and acknowledges the value of an experience or relationship. It is a warmth, openness, perhaps a lightness. Gratitude grows out of mindfulness as when we are mindful we have greater awareness of what brings us meaning, compassion, joy and love. This awareness helps us to recognize the many blessings in our life. Mindfulness and an attitude of gratitude walk hand in hand as we find ourselves expressing thank you more frequently. Our thoughts become positive and our light shines brighter. We discover greater generosity as we extend ourselves or our time to others. We may discover greater generosity and appreciation toward ourselves. How can we become our own best friend? Remember that the longest relationship we will ever have is with ourselves. Giving to self needs to be at least equal to what we extend to others.
Feelings of gratitude become memories. Our heart remembers the kindness of the cashier, the gentleness of our partner’s appreciation, the feeling when a stranger said thank you amidst our impatient rushing. How did it feel when your supervisor or mentor expressed appreciation for the value you offer? A family member tells you how much you are appreciated. Gratitude affects our physical, emotional, creative, and cooperative well-being.
Gratitude can extend into the challenges in our lives. How many times have you shared a difficult time that now is referred to as a blessing in disguise? How often does some good come from the crucible of lessons learned?
Gratitude can emerge from forgiveness. Remember what it feels like to be forgiven or to forgive someone who has deeply disappointed us. There is a freedom in letting go. There is appreciation for the one who has forgiven us and compassion for the one we have forgiven.
What can we do on a daily basis to integrate gratitude in to our lives?
- Keep a journal for 21 days and each evening write down what you were grateful for each day.
- Be mindful of the areas in your life where you felt gratitude. (Work, relationships, finances, health)
- What did you learn today? Is this a blessing? Obstacle to gratitude?
- Did you forgive today? Were you forgiven?
- Reflect on and write down what worked for you today.
- What did it feel like to feel gratitude?
- What was meaningful to you today?