With Thanksgiving right around the corner, gratitude is on the mind. Every Thanksgiving we are surrounded by those we love most as we sit around large tables full of good food. It is easy to see why we have so much to be grateful for. It is also easy to be grateful on Thanksgiving because the whole world is participating. It is a social media uproar with #grateful. However, I believe that gratitude is not the easy choice. Gratitude is a difficult decision and it is never second nature. That is why choosing to be grateful is key to truly living a life full of thanks, and it must start long before the turkey is cooking.
Have you ever wondered why you can find two people in similar situations, with one who is happy while the other is miserable? It comes down to their choices. Each of us has the ability to choose gratitude or not. Happiness tends to be a bubble of a many emotions instead of an isolated emotion. Relief, excitement, love, safety, peace, and joy all are part of the sensation of being happy. And at its root is gratitude. Think about it. Depending on the day your life is either hard or enjoyable. What usually makes the difference? Gratitude. Yes, circumstances can have an impact, sometimes major, but even those can be handled different depending on your choice.
Not too many years ago I hated Thanksgiving. It really was pointless to me. Why? Because I only ate one thing: rolls. Ever since I was a little girl I was a picky eater. It’s a texture (and stubborn) thing. I didn’t eat turkey, potatoes of any kind, stuffing, veggies, and the only fruit I would eat was from the jam on my roll. As I grew older I learned to be a little easier to work with. My poor grandmother would make a turkey AND a ham just so that I would eat some protein with my rolls. Did this make me like Thanksgiving more? Not really. All I had to do was show up and eat, and even that was putting me out.
Thankfully, my taste buds started to change around 18 and now I am a big foodie. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and oh how I wish my only assignment was to show up and eat! What made the difference (besides choosing to branch out and eat different foods)? My attitude. I came to realize that I was so lucky to have all of my family live close, to have an abundance of food, and a grandmother who went out of her way to make my favorite foods. I am a down-right, over the top, lucky person for those blessings alone.
I didn’t even realize until all these years later that I was hurting myself by not being grateful. I didn’t have to like all the food served but I should have been mature-enough to see why I had every reason to love the holiday. It was all too easy to be ungrateful and even miserable about something so fun and enjoyable. Be on the lookout for those events in your life. What circumstances have you chosen to be ungrateful about? It’s hard to look at it that way because it is such a new way of thinking, but it helps. Ask yourself, why is this upsetting/unenjoyable to me? If you trace it down far enough you will see it probably was the easy mistake of not choosing gratitude.
So, this year while you are cutting into your turkey and for the days and weeks far afterward – choose gratitude. Look for areas where you have chosen not to be grateful and make a conscious effort to find something to be grateful for. It might start as general blank statements like that you have a job, or that you’re alive. It’s okay to start small and hints of sarcasm are fine. You will find that as you practice this new skill, choosing gratitude will become the easiest and most worthwhile decision.