This coming week is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday because it celebrates an attitude of gratitude—one of the most important practices to cultivate as a Creator.
Gratitude is an emotional response to what you appreciate. However, the emotional response that arises is not a leaderless action. Gratitude is a choice you make. You can choose to be grateful, or you can choose to be ungrateful. As a Creator, gratitude is an attitude to foster.
There are wealthy people with a prosperous life who are not generous and rarely grateful. There are also people with very little wealth or fame who are boundless in their generosity and gratitude. Gratitude is a choice no matter what your life circumstances.
While gratitude is an emotional response focusing on what you have rather than on what you don’t have, thankfulness is the outward expression of gratitude. We may express thanks in words, or gestures, a gift or a warm embrace. The ritual of giving thanks further expands the feeling of gratitude.
What we focus on and give our attention to expands. If you pay attention to what you appreciate, what you appreciate will grow. David’s dad, who was a car-driving, traveling salesman had only one bumper sticker on his car: “Courtesy is Contagious.” Courtesy generates more courtesy for oneself and others.
Gratitude is a generative act of choice that follows what you appreciate. If you are grateful no matter what your circumstances, you are much less likely to experience the feeling of victimhood. You will be able to see the gift or lesson to be learned no matter the situation or relationship.
The daily practice of gratitude keeps the heart open and humble. Without gratitude, the grasping mind focuses on lack and limitation, which may lead to self-centeredness and feeling victimized by even the most mundane situation.
This exercise will support you in developing a powerful daily practice of gratitude:
- Just before you go to sleep, reflect on the events of the day through a lens of gratitude. List a minimum of 3 or 4 things that you are grateful for. No situation or event is too small to appreciate.
- As you slip into sleep, notice the shift in your mood and inner state.
- In the morning, set your intention to be aware during the day of what you appreciate more than what you don’t appreciate.
- Again that evening, observe the things you appreciated and are grateful for.
Choosing gratitude is the way of a Creator. Cultivating the path of appreciation is an empowering journey.