A Season of Gratitude
The month of November has had its very high ups and very low downs for me and my family over the last several years but this year in particular I feel as though I am finally able to embrace this season as one of genuine gratitude. It is and always will be a work in progress but working towards gratitude has been much more fulfilling than I ever expected. Many of my friends, all of whom are in different circles, have been sharing that which they are grateful for on a daily basis and it has been truly inspiring. Let’s take a moment to explore all of the ways the attitude of gratitude can be our motivation to finish out another amazing year and continue throughout our years to come.
Embracing the Past: Thanksgiving Day this year will fall on the date in which my family and I had to say goodbye to my dad as he moved on from our world. It will be eighteen years since he passed and from that year on this season was never the same. He was the glue that kept our family together and we suddenly had to figure it all out without him and without each other. And then five years ago I met my husband and November changed. His birthday, only days away from the anniversary, gave me something to celebrate again. It became the center of my Thanksgiving Season and I found joy in preparing the feasts and participating in the festivities.
There will always be moments of darkness. There will be sadness and pain, loneliness and heartache. This year for me has been the true turning point, though. Opening up to life and all that it has to offer includes embracing those moments just as much as the ones that fill us up with joy. In fact, stepping back and not judging the darkness or pain as bad or negative at all has been my current practice which is certainly difficult but becomes easier with time. You simply never know what’s around the corner, you never know who or what will rise above the ashes. The heroes, the joy, the light, the laughter often reveal themselves to an unimaginable degree after periods of sorrow and we simply don’t have the foresight to see it ahead of time.
My challenge to you (when you’re ready) is to join me in calling back those moments of sadness and heartache and take a breath to hold them close to your heart. Love them for teaching you whatever strength, endurance, determination and values you learned, thank them for the experience that helped you grow……and then let…them…go. It will not be easy, it may even be the hardest thing you ever do, and it will feel like a sharp and painful wound again…but I promise that with practice your tears will shift into tears of joy and your heart will find pure love through healing.
A Positive Outlook: I’ve listened to the truths that many of us try to live by and then I hear the difficulty we sometimes have when we are not able to stick by them. One truth that stands out to me as a belief that we all try to have but is often times difficult is that it’s essential to always think positively. Easier said than done, right? Well, maybe not if we turn our traditional approach around and practice with smaller steps rather than wait for the bigger events.
What often happens is that it’s easy to think positively, speak affirmations and celebrate joy when things are great but as soon as we’re challenged with a difficult period we feel, well, challenged. It’s wonderful to appreciate the good, the great moments, the happiness when we feel it, but what about all of the smaller moments in between? The smaller, unnoticed moments are the ones that can really use a shift. Those are the moments that we forget about having a positive attitude and minor flashes of judgment, criticism, irritation and aggravation suddenly tip the scales without us realizing it. Then we find that when a BIG pain in the rear, heart or head comes around we succumb to the external experience, the outside influence, and our ability to suddenly shift into a “positive attitude” or the “attitude of gratitude” is just too great to manage.
My challenge to you today is to join me in approaching the smaller moments in your every day with new thoughts when someone or something rocks you just the tiniest bit. Remember, at this point the bigger more painful moments are not what I’m concerned about yet. Besides, until you’re ready it will feel ridiculous to try and attempt suddenly shifting your thoughts. Instead, throughout your regular day-to-day activities, when someone does something annoying as they often do and often will, try stepping back and considering that we’re all learning together, figuring things out in our own way and our own time, there is nothing to judge. When you look in the mirror, step on the scale, or make an unhealthy choice, no matter what you’ve been doing up until this point, acknowledge the feeling and remind yourself I’m beautiful, I’m a good person, I’m doing the best I can, there is nothing to judge. When something random and unpleasant happens to you, whatever it is, and your typical reaction is anger or frustration, assess the situation without emotion and breathe through it instead. Tell yourself it’s just physical, it is external, it has no authority over me, there is nothing to judge.
We take for granted the little thoughts we have going through our head and heart throughout the day, not to mention the thoughts we share out loud or even bother to type out in a post, email or text. One primary truth I try to live by is that our thoughts help develop our words which help develop our actions which help develop our reality which then result in the thoughts we carry around with us and the cycle continues on throughout infinity. See how this new approach creates a more blissful type of balance throughout your day. Consistency will make all the difference with everything you do and attitude is no different than any other activity we choose to practice.
The blessings of just this year have been incredibly overwhelming in the best possible ways for me and I am truly humbled. I hope you choose to join those who are sharing 30 days of giving thanks to explore the potential of your own gratitude. Whether it’s something you write in your journal, share with a friend or post for the world to see, it’s never too late for thanksgiving.