Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thinking about gratitude


I have been looking to find the right "Gratitude" image for this post. I scoured many images but none was really what I wanted, so instead I used this photo I had taken a number of years ago. It probably doesn't fit, but I don't know, it's pretty and simplistic and really just needs the word "gratitude" to make some kind of motivational/inspirational card. Maybe that makes no sense?

Anyway, I've also been reading a number of articles about gratitude. There's everything from how we should be grateful for the things we have--to the people around us, to the jobs we hold, to food, to shelter, to warmth, and the list goes on and on. There are even quite a number of articles how
gratitude can make you healthier and happier and change your attitude on life. I don't discount any of these things, because I think there is some relevance to all the above.

However, there are some articles that look at gratitude differently. This article from the
Citizen-Times out of Asheville is one that caught my eye: about being grateful for the unwanted things in our life. The author says,

"
Around the table today there is a tendency to get caught up in being grateful for having the things we want. But often it is the unwanted that transforms our lives and pushes us to grow into the people we are destined to become." He then asks, "Around the table today, are we grateful because we have everything we want, or are we grateful for having what we need — love, integrity, courage, compassion, openness?"

This article out of the The Star-Ledger also gives an interesting spin to the holiday, in saying, "it's okay if there isn't any thanks this Thanksgiving." This author essentially says how we shouldn't make assumptions of what someone else's holiday should feel like, because it is different for everyone which can be either a positive or negative experience.

And lastly, how I think about gratitude. It's an interesting phenomenon to me. I do not just feel grateful on Thanksgiving day but rather daily. I feel grateful for broad things alike-- the tangible and intangible things I have, as well as the people and memories experienced in my life. Sometimes I think I may feel grateful too much. It's in a way of feeling highly grateful that anyone does something out of pure nicety for me. I'm sure this roots back into the whole "deserving" thinking, but still, I find myself struggling with it a lot, despite the fact that I try to be gracious to all walks of life. Maybe it's like this quote from the Christian Science Monitor:

"It's nearly impossible to feel grateful unless you're convinced that the blessing is yours. Which means that gratitude moves us from well-meaning faith to rock-solid understanding."

The article is more about how this young woman was able to not just acknowledge God but actually feel it which helped her conquer her fear of mediocrity and failure and realize what she had to offer. I think this is true for a lot of us in general--to feel convinced that we have much to offer this world.

I've kind of gone off tangent here, but I want to end with this quote by Melody Beattie:

"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. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

And with that, I wish each and every one of you a healthy, safe, and peaceful Thanksgiving.

5 comments:

Charlynn said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tiptoe said...

Charlynn, you too! Hope you and your hubby enjoy the time together.

Mrs. B said...

Tiptoe,

I think you are very insightful--gratitude is an attitude. And the author is right that sometimes we have to go through stuff to become the person we are intended to be. We don't have to like it--most of the time we won't. Love your blog!!
Mrs. B

kb said...

Tiptoe,

I know that it's now post-Thanksgiving, but I really did enjoy your musings over gratitude. I think it is a double-edged sword, as you noted. Far too many times I've believed that I *should* be grateful for all that I have. Now, I truly AM grateful for what I have, but it's things that I've given myself (and not really things, but, say, being in a loving relationship, working in a field that I find challenging and meaningful). I think that touches on the idea that you have to give yourself these blessings to feel gratitude.

- Kristina

Tiptoe said...

Mrs. B., thanks for your input and compliments. Getting through the hard stuff is tough but it can help us grow, that's for sure.

Kristina, I like the way you put it. I think that is how I want to feel--to feel grateful not as the "should" but to believe in it as a "real" thing.