Gratitude from the heart, not the habit
‘Tis the season again – that time when giving thanks comes up for reevaluation. (Thanksgiving again in the United States, my non-US subscribers. For those of you who don’t know, the traditional meal for the holiday is turkey. That’ll be important later on.)
I was going to talk about a specific aspect of gratitude but once my pen got moving, I discovered I had something else to say. So now I’ve got two years of newsletter posts in the bag. Thank you, whatever muse feeds my writing.
So . . . what wants to come out is directed toward those of us who say ‘thank you’ way too often, as well as to those of us who dismiss others’ difficulties with a call to find something to be grateful for.
Some of us don’t say ‘good bye’ or ‘see you’ when we finish a call or visit. We say ‘thank you.’
If we’ve told a friend at least 70 times that we hate framed fluffy kitty pictures (yes, there’s at least one of you out there), we don’t say ‘you forgot that I hate framed fluffy kitty pictures, didn’t you?’ when that friend gives us a framed fluffy kitty picture (okay, I just like saying and picturing framed fluffy kitty pictures). Instead, we say ‘thank you’.
It’s our go-to phrase. You’d think it was our ticket to continued existence, the way we use it.
Others of us never met a moment that didn’t include gratitude, and only gratitude.
Your dog died? So sorry, but aren’t these flowers from the vet lovely? And isn’t it great that your friends are all here? And isn’t it wonderful that you still have two dogs, 4 cats and a pony in your fur family? ‘You have so much to be grateful for.’
If a friend has been unsuccessfully looking for work for 6 months and is getting desperate and dispirited, we’re the ones who point out how much worse things could be or remind her that gratitude begets happiness and success. We could even give her a framed fluffy kitty picture to show how much we care (and then she could say ‘thank you’).
So what’s the matter with acknowledging that someone took the time to visit or thought to give us a gift? Why wouldn’t that attitude contribute to our recognition of the ongoing gifts from the Universe?
Why wouldn’t we want to help someone out of pain and back into a brighter place? Why wouldn’t gratitude be the connection to the potential new beginning in every present moment?
A mindless ‘thank you’ doesn’t tap into the gratitude stream the same way an enthusiastic and heartfelt expression of thanks does. And a thanks for the tiny token underneath a steaming pile of what we hope can be used for fertilizer doesn’t really hold integrity when the pile isn’t acknowledged.
Yes, there is potential for gratitude in every moment. Yes, the search for that gratitude can put us in touch with elements of our world that could use our recognition.
Sometimes, there are more pressing needs. Like the need for someone to just be present through our discomfort. Like the need to recognize our own value or to draw our own boundaries.
So, how about we save gratitude for the times and places we really feel it? Connect with the Universe with integrity and let it know how you really feel.
May you find much to be truly grateful for this season.
Life isn’t always easy and choices aren’t always crystal clear. We don’t always know what we’re capable of.
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