Gratitude- The Bold Value of Thankfulness

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. — Henry Van Dyke

A few days ago, I met my former manager for an ice cold beer at a local bar. Just for a fleeting moment or two, we talked about this being the week of Thanksgiving. In business — and in academia — this is always a week where very little is accomplished. Teachers, businesswomen and men and students alike are in “cruise control.” Everyone is psyched to have a few days off.

My former manager said that he wasn’t as much looking forward to celebrating the holiday, Thanksgiving, or even necessarily being in with family. It was more about the few days off that he would savor. And truth be told, I think most people feel that way. Given the current climate in the U.S., the feeling of division, or struggles within many of our lives, we simply need a break.

And that’s fine.

I’m simply offering something to consider as we approach Thanksgiving and as this year begins to draw to a close: It’s beneficial for your spiritual, emotional, physical and mental well-being to take the time to realize all the good things that you have in your life. All that you can be thankful for and grateful that you do not live without.

In essence, this is what I believe this time of year is really all about.

Expressing Gratitude

We lose a lot of energy and we end up hurting ourselves by living and brooding in negative emotions. It’s simply not an easy way to live. There are a bevy of scientific studies which have proven that happy people live healthier lives. I believe that gratitude leads to happiness.

Dr. Melanie Greenberg writes,

“Feeling and expressing gratitude turns our mental focus to the positive, which compensates for our brains’ natural tendency to focus on threats, worries, and negative aspects of life. As such, gratitude creates positive emotions like joy, love, and contentment which research shows can undo the grip of negative emotions like anxiety. Fostering gratitude can also broaden your thinking, and create positive cycles of thinking and behaving in healthy, positive ways.”

Think about how much time you spend on the phone or in-person talking about little nagging, trivial and insignificant things? We all complain a lot. I know I do. Why not be more grateful when with the people we truly love? Our aim should be to eliminate all outward anxiety and show our inner emotions of love, happiness and enjoyment of company.

When we’re with the people we care about most — or on our own, focusing on our lives — we should always be mindful of how precious life’s moments are.Rich or poor, during moments of distress or joy, we have a lot to be thankful for.

When something good happens in your life, be thankful, but also be grateful that you get to live each day with purpose and the opportunity to create your own destiny. It’s easyto turn negative or blame people for our plight, when things don’t go our way. Then, we’re not in a very thankful mood for all of the good things that we and others have.

Because we cannot make sense of things, we turn to doubt, which is never helpful. These are precisely the moments that we need to turn the negative into positive and express thanksgiving, not rejection. We can do this during grief, unrest, sadness and all of the terrible and unfortunate things that can occur in this life.

Our Needs

Many of us take for granted the roofs over our heads, which provide us shelter and enable us not to starve or freeze to death. We are endowed with a heart and mind that seek to love and are able to be loved by others! Dwell and meditate on how beautiful and special that gift is the next time you grow angry and feel the need to blame the world around you.

In this world, we’re able to express who we are and we have the freedom to pursue dreams. This is not to suggest we intentionally live with a “things can always be worse mindset” but instead a grateful heart for what God has given us.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

I‘m willing to bet there’s a good chance that you have more needs in your life — which are met — than you may think. I urge anyone to live with an abundance mindset, though the negative that can come from that is thinking that luxuries or non-essential “good-to-have’s” are actual needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which focuses on physiological and safety concerns first, illuminates us as to what true needs really are.

If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a mobile phone or laptop computer, chances are, your most basic needs are met. You may in fact be blessed enough to come from a loving family and/or have a partner who cherishes you and adds value to your life. This gives you a greater sense of self-worth in who you are.

“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out, and the tide of love rushes in.” — Kristin Armstrong

That’s a tremendous amount to be grateful for. It’s worth thinking about.

If we want reward that comes from happiness, peace of mind and self-satisfaction, we have to give and say thank you. Gratitude is a form of humility and kindness, which is a language received with open hearts by anyone of an understanding nature. Showing thanks is acknowledging good in the part of another human being, paying a compliment and a nod to someone else’s attitude and effort.

You will always win and further yourself when you thank those who lift up your spirit. It’s a necessity for the person who seeks to find greater harmony with God and others. But don’t just do it for others. Do it for yourself. You’ll live a happier life. And when you have time to reflect your current lot in life, you’ll understand the power of being thankful for what you have. Happy Thanksgiving!

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