gratitudeTurkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, travel challenges and family get-togethers…Thanksgiving in the US is all that and more. I want to talk about another dimension of Thanksgiving, the importance of gratitude. Having a gratitude practice – on Thanksgiving and every day – can help you get through tough times. This quote by Melody Beattie says it all:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

A few short years ago, right before Thanksgiving, Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the East Coast. In the aftermath of the destruction and loss, I became acutely aware of the blessings in my life. I felt grateful for the roof over my head, heat, abundant food in my pantry and fridge, supportive friends and a loving family. I felt lucky that I never lost power, even though my neighbors a block away had been out of power for a week. I was amazed that my home and property did not suffer damage and that my biggest headache was removing the sticks and large branches that fell in my yard.

As I think about recent national and international crises, the issues I’m dealing with in my life pale in comparison. That’s because I have a daily gratitude practice.

Why is gratitude so important?

As you know, life isn’t always rainbows and roses. There are many challenges that can throw you into a tailspin – a large bill for home or car repair, a disgruntled client or boss, a child going through a tough time. And then there are the larger, more devastating challenges, such as a scary medical diagnosis, a huge financial hit, or the tragic loss of those we love.

How we view our challenges is what matters most. We are at choice as to how we process and perceive crisis. And what we choose to focus on determines our level of inner peace and joy.

One of my favorite quotes from Ethics of Our Fathers is:

“Who is happy? One who is happy with their lot.”

When we are grateful for what we DO HAVE rather than focusing on what we don’t, we can better deal with whatever comes our way. Our lives become richer every time we manage a crisis with grace.

This is true in life and love

Have you ever been on a date with someone who spent an hour bashing his ex for leaving him financially and emotionally depleted? I am not diminishing the challenges of a divorce, breakup, or loss of a spouse. It’s difficult to disentangle and heal from the loss of a long-term relationship. The point is that you have a choice as to how you process it. Instead of blaming your ex-husband for your struggles, focus on the gifts of the relationship.

If you have children born of that union, that’s the greatest gift of all. Maybe your ex taught you the importance of setting boundaries in future relationships. Perhaps he taught you the importance of good communication in a relationship. What a gift that is!

Gratitude is sexy

When a person takes responsibility for what they learn in life’s toughest moments, that’s attractive and very sexy. It’s the sign of a person with great coping skills. He or she is resilient, able to keep moving through life with grace.

“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.”
― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Will you make today worth remembering? Will you develop an attitude of gratitude? I encourage you to come up with a gratitude list and share it with those you love. Feel free to share your top 5 in the comments below. I’ll start with my top 5.

My gratitude list

1. My healthy, gorgeous, sweet 5-month old granddaughter

2. My 3 wonderful, thoughtful, beautiful children

3. My amicable relationship with my ex-husband

4. My relatively healthy parents, ages 83 and 93!

5. My ability to do work that I love, work that makes a positive impact on the lives of others

Wishing you and your family a gratitude-filled, loving, and very Happy Thanksgiving!

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