Maintaining an Authentic Gratitude Practice Post-Election

Thanksgiving is just a little over a week away and many people are talking about skipping celebrations this year. Disappointment, shock, and grief over the election results, followed by anger and an intense call to action have pulled many’s focus away from their center and into a collective organization of furious activity.

This election and its outcome has been unprecedented in our history, but the response to it will, I think, be something this country has only seen perhaps once or twice before in the last two centuries. Rather than riotous and warring protests, though, most of the 2016 protesters are organizing much more long-term and policy-changing actions that will effect real and significant change to benefit the entire country and, by extension, the rest of the world.

In light of the future our country faces, any and all work toward creating a more inclusive, compassionate, and peaceful world is, in my estimation, admirable and necessary. I would hope, though, that all of us doing so would remember that what we desire for the world begins within each of us. While we can use our anger as a force to propel us forward into action, we cannot sustain our own peace by living always in that anger.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve decided to begin a kind of modified weekly gratitude list. When I did this practice before, I would include all of those things I thought I should be grateful for. You know, the good friend that betrayed me, the boyfriend that hurt me, the family member that hadn’t talked to me in years. The doctor who treated me like I was nothing but a stupid, uninformed woman. Because they were, after all, a good friend, my boyfriend, my family, and my doctor. And I should be grateful to have them in my life.

Well, I’m switching things up a little bit now. My gratitude lists are going to follow a more considered and careful approach. I’m going to create them out of what I feel I am truly and authentically grateful for, not what I feel I should be grateful for. Over time, I suspect they will grow. Because over time, I suspect my compassion and wisdom and love will grow. But I’m not going to force it. I’m going to let it blossom. Because anything forced will meet resistance.

My first gratitude list, post-election:

  1. I am grateful for President Obama and his unmeasured calm and poise, his grace under pressure and attack, and his example of true leadership and diplomacy.
  2. I am grateful for the freedom to speak my mind, for the freedom to seek Spirit as I choose, for the freedom to write expressively, for the right to vote, for freedom to protest injustices in this world.
  3. I am grateful for the beauties of the natural world, in all of its seasons, whether calm or furious.
  4. I am grateful for all living non-human creatures.
  5. I am (deeply) grateful for my two beautiful cats.
  6. I am grateful for the family that supports and loves me.
  7. I am grateful for the friends that support and love me.