It’s the beginning of a new year, a new decade, and perhaps the best of all days to come. A bit optimistic you might say, and that may be right, however, I really don’t think so. Optimism is often the upshot of a sense of gratitude for life and the many nuances of it that propel us forward day by day, week by week.
I spent some time at a holiday gathering a couple of weeks ago, and several people were commenting that with the current political climate, and the fear that accompanies it for many, the negativity ‘inherent’ in life was illuminated during this holiday time.
I felt immediately saddened after hearing that. The only thing that feels illuminated is the future as we proceed through each day. One way to see that road to the future is through the lens of gratitude. There are so many quotes and sayings we have read and heard for years, that it’s difficult to isolate just a few favorites. Each holds wisdom of its own, an essence of truth and a lesson of some sort.
The concept of gratitude, to feel grateful and to express it, can assist in healing many losses and traumas. Gratitude begins internally, with a sense of understanding that feeling thankful may entail a mixture of humility, grace, and courage. It can also provide solace and calm if we allow it. Here are a few of my favorite quotes about gratitude — perhaps you might find one that may have meaning for you.
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” Maya Angelou
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us, as well.” Voltaire
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” Kahill Gibran, The Prophet
And, personally, when someone thanks me for helping them, for supporting them, it makes me feel stronger, more enthused about going back in to offer support to another.
What do you feel grateful for? When was the last time you said “Thank you” to someone?
I think Southern graciousness begs a “Thank you” comment for just about everything, and while that can be refreshing, it sometimes may not sound terribly authentic. But those socially polite expressions of thanks are important, especially to the receiver of those words.
Let’s go a bit deeper into the gratitude you feel, on an everyday basis. If most of us thought about it, I think we might feel thankful for just BEING. I appreciate so many things in nature, which I think of as gratitude for the beauty around me, be that in the company of people, or in the singular beauty and inspiration of the sky, the sun, a river or a lake.
There seems to be an abundance of thankfulness during this holiday time for many. For others, the gratitude-quotient may dip, maybe hit rock bottom, because of feelings of loneliness or isolation. And when that happens, you may be surprised to know how powerful that simple “Thank you” uttered by a stranger will be. The acknowledgment that someone has done something nice for you, offered you something, noticed your efforts, can garner a strong sense of positivity and confidence. With that, thankfulness can be returned, beginning a sort of circle of gratitude that can be life-giving.
Interacting with friends, family and friend-family can at times stretch your patience or possibly your tolerance. When there’s a conflict of some kind, and someone offers an apology or an explanation, that typically means that your relationship is important to them and that they would like to make amends. That’s something to be thankful for. There is much gratitude and acknowledgment of feeling thankful that operates within a serious relationship, whether a platonic friendship or an intimate partnership. I wonder if we ask ourselves, and each other, just how meaningful someone feeling grateful to you or grateful for you, would be.
Practicing gratitude is like practicing mindfulness meditation. There are many benefits when you practice gratitude daily. You give yourself the time you need to reflect on some of the more positive emotions in your life. In doing so, you may feel much more alive. You may even sleep better, be able to better express your feelings, and you will be able to show more kindness to others.
Stress levels go down. Interacting with others becomes easier and more meaningful. We also then tend to foster relationships that are kind to our peace of mind, our happiness and our willingness to feel gratitude.
There’s an inherent goodness to acknowledging gratitude, especially when it is expressed TO you, not by you. Most often, gratitude comes for those who have helped and guided you throughout your life, and when it is turned around, and someone is grateful for you, it sometimes takes courage to allow that. Gratitude is a deep feeling that comes from your heart, and often for a history of good acts, not just a single event.
As we welcome the 2020’s, I hope the opportunity to live a more intentional life, to reach out to more people who can use your help with something, will emerge for you.
It would be so refreshing to be more active this year, to begin by doing one thing that’s different, or with different people, during a month’s time. You could think about participating in something that includes helping others, or where there’s an opportunity to teach or mentor someone. When that occurs, allow your feelings of gratitude for those in your life who influenced and helped you to emerge, and be expressed in some way. Then, look around, and find something you think is beautiful, or calming, or inspiring to you. And enjoy.
The very best to you as we all approach the new decade. I hope to see you at various gatherings, community groups, or walking around our most beautiful city.