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The Importance of Practicing Gratitude

November 20, 2011
The Importance of Gratitude Blog post title

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Do you spend time regularly practicing gratitude? Here is why you should!

It’s hard to believe how quickly this year has passed and that in just a few days we will be celebrating another Thanksgiving already. After spending a lot of time on the phone finalizing plans for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I began thinking about Thanksgiving and what the day is really supposed to be about. We enjoy watching parades and football, getting together with family and friends and eating…….lots of eating.

But it’s really so much more than that. The Pilgrims celebrated the first official Thanksgiving in America in 1621. The three-day feast was held to thank God for allowing them to survive their first year in the New World (over half of those who made the journey to America died the first winter here due to starvation and the bitter New England weather). It was also to celebrate and show gratitude to the Indians who had befriended them and who had shared their knowledge of planting and harvesting. The whole celebration was about gratitude.

There is a quote that I love from Brother David Steindl-Rast Which says:

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy-because we will always want to have something else or something more.

We live in a society that is used to complaining……about everything. It seems that nothing is ever quite good enough. And if bad things happen, the complaints start flying. But so often we forget to have gratitude, even in difficult times.

And how often do we take the things in our life for granted? We want a better car, a better house, better clothes, better….everything. Take the time to be grateful for the things that you do have in your life. The roof over your head, the clothes on your back, the food in the cupboard, family, and friends who love you.

Practicing gratitude each day

Each and every night I practice gratitude. I will pick three things in my life (anything from a candle on my coffee table to my family), and I consciously express gratitude for it. I take the time to think about how each item makes my life better. And I enjoy the candle because it is pretty, it smells good, and it gives off a soft, warm light. With my family, I think about how they love me, even when I’m grumpy, and how they are always there for me. This little exercise always brings out feelings of gratitude and has helped my gratitude grow by leaps and bounds.

When you make the choice to practice gratitude, you will notice that your stress level will decrease significantly. When all you do is complain about the problems, the negativity increases your stress. But the positive energy that is created by practicing gratitude can override the effects of stress.

So this year, when you are gathered at the Thanksgiving table, try practicing a little gratitude. Really think about what you are grateful for…..even the difficult things. And always remember that no matter how bad things may be, they could always be worse and you still have a lot to be grateful for.

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