I was watching Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving special the other night with my family. I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I happened to catch the part where the Indians and the Pilgrims came together to feast. I tried to imagine that day… two groups of people coming together to share and appreciate what the other brings. It made me wonder… when did it all change? Did the Indians get resentful, feeling that the Pilgrims did not appreciate what they were offering? Did the Pilgrims get greedy or begin to take things for granted? Relationships across the board aren’t all too different, I suppose. The point that stood out to me is that gratitude and appreciation can be very difficult to sustain, regardless of how good it initially seems.
During this time of Thanksgiving, I ponder the reality of sustaining a state of gratitude. How do I begin to shift my thoughts… to continuously bring myself back to a state of gratitude… to a state of grace? I definitely feel happier when I am focusing on positive thoughts… things that are working for me… what I am grateful for.
I’ve tried to keep a gratitude journal in the past. It was an interesting experience. It seemed like a task to me… I always seemed to struggle to complete the necessary couple lines of gratitude before going to bed. Really? I consider myself to be an extremely fortunate person with so much abundance in my life… family, friends, amazing children, work that sustains me. What could possibly be going on that would keep me from taking up pages of my journal each and every night? I realized that my brain is not wired to notice what’s working. I’m so much more likely to notice what’s not working. What I don’t like. And I consider myself a pretty positive person overall! I realize now that it actually takes conscious effort to shift that auto-pilot into gratitude mode.
Much of what I read speaks of the importance of appreciating where you are and what you have… while at the same time getting very clear on what you want. It’s perplexing to me. When I focus on what I want, it makes me very aware of what I don’t have. Quite the opposite of feeling gratitude for where I am. How do you balance the equation of gratitude for what is… and deliberate clarity of what you want? I can picture the workshop title now… “The art of gracious desire!” Is it more important to appreciate what you have? Or to get clear on what you want? Or is it equally important? And if so, how does one pull that off, exactly?
I think this week I will attempt to bring moments of gratitude into conscious awareness each day. Maybe I’ll use a sticky note or two to help remind me of my plan. Wake up – and be thankful for the coming day. Eat – and be thankful for the food on my plate. Connect – and be thankful for the amazing people in my life. Work – and be thankful for the opportunity to be creative and employed.
I’ll also spend a few minutes each morning imagining what I would like the day to look like. I will be sure to give 100% to the visualization – seeing the images that make me smile… hearing the sounds that fill my heart… smelling the fragrance of contentment. I’m attempting to practice the art of successful visualization… but I’ll save that for another day.
How will you sustain gratitude this week? Or how are you already keeping gratitude alive in your world? Do you know what you want? Have you spelled it out? Do you take time each morning to clarify your ideal day? I’d love to hear about your journey… what rituals around gratitude and clarity do you have in place? Or what rituals would you like to implement? Please feel free to share… I’d love to hear!
Wishing you love and laughter ~Rashel