As my daughter edges into her teen years, I have noticed her showing more worry. Recently, we’ve been talking together about how she can lighten her own load. We’ve come around to an ongoing discussion of whether one focuses on worry or on gratitude, how a focus on what is good and working in life has a big influence on overall attitude then how attitude influences health and happiness in a positive ripple effect.
There has actually been a lot of research in the past decade on gratitude and well being. It is probably no surprise that “Gratitude is concluded to be uniquely important to psychological well-being.” My daughter and I have decided that it isn’t enough to just think gratitude. We need to say it out loud and share it with the people who matter to us.
Especially when there is so much to be discouraged about—wars, environmental catastrophe, economy, as well as all of the personal issues that inevitably come up—it is very good to have a reminder that we need to focus on all that we are grateful for.
In my family, and in many families, we go around the Thanksgiving table and talk about what we are thankful for.
Gratitude seems to come from somewhere deeper than a simple thank-you. Gratitude seems a deeper acknowledgment than a one-time debt to be paid with that simple yet valuable phrase, “Thank you.” Yet, that is the phrase we have. Maybe the difference when spoken out loud is in the attitude.
Gratitude seems to me a recognition of the roles of others in bringing into our lives so much that is good and necessary. Maybe you think of those intangible necessities such as a kind and welcoming smile from someone you see often but don’t really know, a bus driver or a store clerk. Maybe you think of those necessities like the food that you buy at the farmers’ market, food that someone else cared for until it came into your hands. Maybe you are more closely connected to your harvest and you can feast on the abundance created between you and the sun and the soil and the rain.
As we enter the Thanksgiving season, as Canadian families celebrate their harvest and their abundance today, please consider telling others out loud what you are grateful for.
I imagine gratitude out loud like this:
- “Thank you for your ready smile every day as I get on the bus. That really makes a difference in my day.”
- “Thank you for all you do to nurture your bees and bring me this honey. My family loves knowing we are eating local honey.”
- “Thank you Sun, thank you Soil, thank you Rain for all you do to grow the food we eat today.”