Remember, Thanksgiving and Christmas are not the only days of the year to express gratitude.
Make sure to acknowledge yourself and someone else in your life each day.
So maybe you’ve received gifts from co-workers, friends, early gifts from family. Some of them may be terrific, so not so terrific (re-gifting!!). And it’s not New Year’s Eve yet, so you have plenty of time to worry or not worry about coming up with some resolutions.
But today, Christmas Day, every day is a chance to spend a few minutes thinking about gratitude: what it is and what you are honestly and deeply grateful for. Let’s begin with your new Xbox Kinect you got on sale. First, you had to earn, get, or be given the money to buy the thing. If you have a job that has paid you enough to buy it – that’s a first level gratitude. If you were given the item, that’s yet another gratitude practice. But as you dig deeper, you were first hired for your job out of how many applicants? And you had the skills and have been well enough to be able to work. And you’ve performed well enough to still be there. And they pay you a living wage with enough left over to treat yourself to the Xbox. Or you have maintained a positive enough relationship with a loved one of some sort – family / friend – that they care enough about you to splurge and get you the Xbox. To zero in on what to be grateful for, you find a small kernel at the bottom and event/action/thoughts/etc. built up from it like a skyscraper.
Gratitude begins with the basics of simply being alive. As you add on having a functional brain and a healthy body that allows you to explore your world and develop, you start to see that the “big things” you are grateful for: a loving relationship, a job, a roof over your head, came from small, simple beginnings. And if your life has had it’s disappointments, poor decisions, failures, not worked out like you dreamed, first welcome to the human race! 🙂 Second, go back to step one and realize without those first small gratitudes you would never had had the chance to fall and get back up again. What if you could be grateful for your mis-steps, to examine the gifts hidden in them, and the opportunities for growth they’ve given you. And if you haven’t grown from them, if you’re feeling despondent and stuck, take out a piece of paper, write each item down, and seriously think about what you learned from each one. Even if it’s “I can survive______” – that’s HUGE! You’ve learned you’re not a quitter and if that’s not something to be grateful for, nothing is!
Gratitude isn’t just a “thank you” for something you’ve achieved, a positive action towards you from another person, or a gift of some sort. It’s a constant, ongoing soul searching, an intellectual exercise of the connections between things that it takes for a desired outcome. You’ll be amazed at all “the little things” that it takes for any given result. As you begin to think that way, critically, and to examine your life, you’ll start to see the chain of “mini gratitudes” leading to the larger ones and you will be amazed at what a gift you life truly is!