It’s Thanksgiving. We’re nearing the end of “30 days of gratitude.” Most of us will enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving turkey as we sit around our tables and declare what has made us thankful this year. It’s easy to be gratitude for a day or a month, but what about the rest of the year. After all, we will experience difficult days in which we just don’t feel grateful. We will have days in which we struggle to even muster words of gratitude, let alone feel it. The world will press in and stress will overwhelm. The moments in which we don’t feel gratitude may even grow exponentially at times.
Fortunately, gratitude is not just a feeling. Gratitude is a choice, a hard choice but a choice, nonetheless. And this year I am choosing to make gratitude a practice. This year, I am going to choose to exercise my muscles of gratitude even when the feelings of gratitude are not present.
I will choose gratitude when tempted to complain. Complaining focuses on what we don’t like and brings greater frustration. In choosing gratitude I will recognize what I don’t like while still giving thanks for the inherent blessings of the situation as well. Rather than complain in traffic, I will focus on the blessing of having a car…the employment to afford a car…the manufacturers who made the car…the air conditioning and heater that keep me comfortable in the car…the opportunity to visit with the passenger in the car…. I will choose gratitude and gain greater peace. Rather than complain about the burnt toast, I will give thanks for the wealth to purchase bread…and the toaster to toast it…and the electricity that powers the toaster.
I will choose gratitude rather than pessimistically think the worst of mankind. I will recognize the complexity of people, their mix of positive and negative qualities. I will give thanks for the unbelievable strengths of people while recognizing their blind spots. I will give thanks for acts of exquisite beauty and grace while recognizing the ugliness of a fallen world. Through gratitude I will invest in the value of the people around me and perhaps nurture their better self.
I will choose gratitude to combat discontentment and counter envy. I will allow gratitude to open my eyes to the abundance I have received and the abundance around me. With gratitude for the abundance I enjoy, I will rejoice and be thankful for the gifts another receives. In a spirit of gratitude, I will find contentment in my life.
I will choose gratitude in an effort to rise above the worries and momentary anxieties of this life. I will express gratitude for the support, love, and resources available to accomplish whatever task is arousing worry and anxiety.
I will choose gratitude even in the face of anger. Doing so will keep me aware of the many gifts the one who has aroused my anger has given in the past. In giving thanks for the blessing received from them in the past, I will not let their current “mistakes” take on apocalyptic proportions.
I will choose gratitude to protect my relationships from the tyranny of callousness, ingratitude, and entitlement that leads to resentment and bitterness.
I will choose gratitude to elevate life and encourage love.
It may prove the more difficult road to travel. It may require practice. But I will choose gratitude because it will bring the greatest joy, the greatest growth, and the greatest opportunity for healthy relationships.
I will choose gratitude. Will you?