One of the Buzz phrases I have heard the last few years among certain groups of people is “We need to develop an attitude of gratitude!” Buzz phrases tend to get on my nerves. This one particularly has rubbed my wrong way because underneath the annoying frequency in which I heard this phrase used in the past year was a kernel of truth poking at my own life.
The challenge with an “attitude of gratitude” is while it sounds like something easily attainable with the right outlook on life and correct state of mind; the truth is gratitude is not measurable, nor is it always easily obtainable. Like love, we can look up the definition of gratitude; give examples of gratitude that we observe in life; make lists and post on Facebook everything and everyone we are grateful for; and yet something is often missing in our attempts to live a life of gratitude, and that something is difficult to put into words. We often sense deep down that while we are grateful for all that is given to us we haven’t quite cultivated gratitude as a way of life.
To have an attitude of gratitude means to be in a constant state of thanksgiving, even when life is hard. To be at peace when things don’t go our way; when there is loss, betrayal, and setbacks; when hard work doesn’t seem to pay off; and when bad things happen to good people. It involves a maturity that few of us completely master in this life. Yes, it is possible to be grieving, heartbroken, scared, frustrated, angry, and grateful at the same time. To live in gratitude is to work through our emotions and still give thanks for this life. It is to realize that every experience has meaning and value and ultimately our experiences forge us into the people we are meant to be and help us to be of service to others.
One of the great things about being an American is that we set aside a day each year to collectively entertain the idea of an attitude of gratitude. It may be followed by pure, unbridled gluttony and out of control consumerism by some, but for a brief moment in time as a nation we understand the need for gratitude in our lives. Gratitude is necessary in order to live life to the fullest. To understand this fact is a monumental step in the development of human potential. Our founding fathers envisioned this country to be a beacon of light in a world enslaved by darkness and ignorance. Gratitude is one of the keys which helps to free us from the things that hold our minds and emotions in bondage and aids us in cultivating the enlightened civilization so many have dreamed of through the ages.
May your Thanksgiving be truly blessed and I wish you the best of luck as you work towards the state of developing perpetual gratitude in your life!