Happy Thanksgiving! Today is the day to really have an attitude of gratitude. Americans take this holiday seriously. After all, this holiday celebrates the founding of our country. The pilgrims arrived on Plymouth Rock and gave thanks that they landed in a country that offered them freedom from religious persecution, high taxes, and a safe place to build a life. It took courage, tenacity, a strong conviction for action and a belief in their abilities and skills to accomplish their mission. Wow! The undaunting spirit of the human condition. Awesome!
So we honor their spirit and give thanks on our unique national holiday. Thanksgiving Day gives us a day to gather together our families and friends and celebrate our good fortune and to honor a sense of freedom that we all possess. This is a day that even cynics cannot denigrate because it is a day that is pure in intent when everyone can agree on a mindset of thankfulness.
Every religion talks about giving daily thanks, but sometimes I think we miss the point.
I propose that one of the greatest tools for living a happy and healthy life is have an attitude of gratitude, Thankfulness changes our life mightily. Every one can give gratitude daily. Just think of all the joys we experience in a day and it is overwhelming.
There is never a lack of things to be grateful for. If you look hard enough, you will find them. Be thankful for those we love and cherish; be thankful for your talents, places you have been, people you have met, your education, your opportunities, your passions, the moments that have shaped your life. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving.
Did you know that having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning and makes us healthier and a whole lot happier. It affects the central nervous system and makes us more peaceful and less reactive, less resistant. Now that’s a really cool way of taking care of our well-being as we go through life.
The one stable gift (besides family) that I daily give gratitude for is my ability to teach. My mother once said to me more than once: “Joanie, you’re a born teacher. So teach.” And I have been teaching since the age of 22. That is the gift I cannot live without because it leads to other fabulous learning and knowing experiences as well as different skill sets. What gift keeps on giving for you? What gift will change your life mightily?
Another gift that keeps on giving for me is resilience, and there is a strong connection between gratitude and resilience – so strong, in fact, that resilience is the outgrowth out of gratitude and gratitude is an outgrowth of resilience. When we think of resilience, we think about our ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change or to cope with adversity and stress. The old “tough it out” or “hang tough” phrases come to mind. Where do we find the energy to do that? I’ll say it again: have an attitude of gratitude. Good mental and physical health means accepting everything that happens in life – the good, the bad and the ugly because everything in our lives is a gift. Everything experience promotes our well-being.
We can even be grateful for the negative things that happen to us in life. Life isn’t perfect. We all know bad stuff happens but inside every negative experience is a positive experience waiting to happen. What negative situation could be a positive in your life? This is an important question because it will eventually eliminate the negative self-talk you put yourself through and provide you with the resilience you are looking for.
My best friend always says to me, “Darling, whatever comes our way, either positive or negative, we can find an opportunity but first be grateful for what you’ve got. Opportunities lurk around every corner. In fact, it’s the negatives I find most interesting. They cause me to work harder at succeeding.”
Have an attitude of gratitude daily and discover the path to joyful living. And what’s really awesome is that you will receive more gifts in your life than you ever imagined.