This is the time of year defined by gratitude. We talk a lot about what we’re grateful for during the last two months of every year. Perhaps you and your family go around at the Thanksgiving table and take turns sharing something you’re grateful for . . . undoubtedly getting the kids to participate. The sheer fact that I’m talking about gratitude in November as opposed to July attests to the seasonality of this powerful tool.
Celebrate gratitude as a year-round phenomenon
Gratitude is your most valuable ally. It’s free and it can benefit you physically and emotionally. I’ll bet most of you have kept a gratitude journal or at least taken a moment each night and/or first thing in the morning to acknowledge something you’re grateful for. But using gratitude to its full advantage takes a little work. As I’ve said previously, that ‘little work’ is the difference between what we have and what we wish we had, where we are and where we want to be.
Lots of us already have an established practice of expressing gratitude and appreciating both the big and small gifts in life. We’re senior experts. We’ve had years to hone the craft of seeking out the smallest thing to revel in at any given moment.
And I’m always looking for new and expanded ways to incorporate gratitude into my daily routine.
An added perspective, a new twist
Would you agree that these times call for a super-sized approach to getting through our days with gratitude and grace? Personally, I’ll take whatever practice will help me keep sight of the happiness and bounty of my life. How could we pump up our gratitude during these especially difficult days? There might be a new tool to add to your arsenal of good vibes.
Do you recall that first time you looked in the mirror and gasped at how much you’d aged? You were probably caught off guard by how swiftly time is passing and, if you’re like me, this realization set in motion new habits and attitudes and new ways of being with ourselves and with others, hoping to improve our remaining time.
Do you recall an instance when someone asked how you were and you responded, or perhaps just said to yourself, “Hey, any day above ground is a good one, right?” We say these things flippantly, in a joking manner . . . but herein lies the key to finding that new gratitude twist.
Both of these examples suggest a possible way to expand gratitude in your life through death.
Looking death straight in the face might help you improve your life today by encouraging you to bring forth and live more fully in gratitude … not flippantly or as part of a joke.
Thinking of death, especially our own death, can be an excellent prompt to focus on gratitude. When things look dire, ask yourself, What will I miss today if I’m not here? Look around. Take a moment to ponder this . . . not out of fear or a need to dwell on death, but out of a deeper appreciation for being here now, despite things not being perfect . . . or even ideal.
Think about wars and the ill effects of climate change, the passing of loved ones and close friends, dwindling energy, money, and time. We won’t miss any of those crises or feelings or concerns. There is, however, still plenty of beauty, laughs, kisses and hugs, good food and drink, and wonderful books and entertainment to be had.
The Power of Gratitude by Whatever Means
Even when circumstances are crappy, there’s tons to be grateful for and, if you’re not here, you will miss out on those. Like viewing the marching of time across your face and body, use the certainty of death to clear a wider path for gratitude for all that you are and all that you have. Be grateful for your imperfect life.
If you lost a spouse or child or good friend, express gratitude in the name of that loved one, keeping them alive through your life. Cry, feel the pain of loss, but let gratitude mix with your tears so that nothing will extinguish the good memories that will buoy you the rest of your life.
It’s up to you to mine the life you desire. As I have said, gratitude is a first step to a full and joyful life. If thinking about death helps you to identify and celebrate with greater gratitude, then go there.
Use whatever creative twist you can envision for greater gratitude, and make it your most powerful ally.
Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. I am grateful for you!