Who in your life is deserving of your gratitude? Your parents. Your fourth grade teacher. Your partner. The nice person behind the counter who makes your morning latte with a smile. YOU? The opportunity for gratitude is everywhere! Just take a look around.
The first official national observance of Thanksgiving took place on November 26, 1789 as proclaimed by President George Washington to be “A Day of Publick Thanksgivin”. While many American holidays honor individuals, for over 230 years, Thanksgiving uniquely offers every person in the United States the opportunity to gather with friends and loved ones, eat a delicious home cooked or takeout meal, and acknowledge and celebrate the act of giving thanks.
There is value in being thankful for what seems like the smallest thing.John Kralik, author.
Gratitude is defined in the dictionary as the quality of being thankful. Some determine that it is a spontaneous emotional response that comes from within, while others deem gratitude to be a choice. In John Kralik’s 2010 personal memoir 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life, the author took this idea that gratitude is a choice and set forth to practice it. He reveals that during his lowest moments he was struck by the thought that his life might be more tolerable if he could find a way to be grateful each day for what he had. He set a goal to write and send 365 thank you notes, one per day, a simple idea that had profound results.
What is it about expressing gratitude that has the ability to change our mood, our mindset, and ultimately our lives? In my unprofessional opinion, gratitude is the key to happiness. But, in order for the gift of giving gratitude to be its most effective, you must in turn be willing to receive it. That’s right. The secret to gratitude is dependent upon your ability to open yourself up.
Why is it that so many of us are willing to give, but find ourselves less likely to take what it is we are dishing out? I feel for me it all boils down to my sense of self-worth and acts of self-criticism. When we show gratitude to others, we deem them worthy of that which we are sending their way. A compliment. Praise. Kindness. Love. Yet, for so many of us, we do not find ourselves as worthy of receiving when the tables are turned. We are often unwilling to believe the stranger who says we have a nice smile, the co-worker who thinks the project we put together is great, or the friend who admires the way we balance everything gracefully. Instead, we tell ourselves stories about how we are not enough and could be better.
But what if, for once in our lives, we put down the critical mirror we hold up to ourselves and simply say “thank you.” Simply say, “yes, I am willing to receive that.”
I am the first person to admit that opening up myself to the goodness of the universe does not come easily. My past hurts, failures, insecurities, and untrue beliefs about my abilities make my brain and my mindset keep me in a state of overprotection and fear. And, to that I say that is it time to STOP. Stop pushing away, brushing aside, or refusing to acknowledge the gratitude that is returning to us. It has been said that ‘what you give comes back to you’. So let it.
Receiving gratitude does not make you greedy or selfish. In fact, allowing gratitude to enter your life is an act of self-love, and one of the best gifts you should let yourself receive. If you don’t know how, or where to begin to find, feel, or accept gratitude, follow the lead of author John Kralik and write about it. Keep a gratitude log or journal, write out thank you notes to someone who touches your heart (whether you send them or not) and write down the things about yourself that others do for you that make you thankful each day.
And, be specific. The more detail and meaning that you can relate about why you feel grateful will help you gain a better understanding of yourself and will paint a clear picture of the good things that are happening to you.
The attitude of gratitude is powerful enough to change your life if you let it. Are you ready to open up and receive? Visit the “printables” section of my website to find helpful tools that you can download and print to keep yourself on track, open, inspired, and moving in the right direction.
What are you truly thankful for this year? Take a moment to reflect upon your gratitude and allow the good feelings to flow.