Fall is here and it is my favorite time of the year. In fact, I had my pumpkin spice pancakes the other day. The leaves have changed colors, temperatures are dropping and the holidays are right around the corner. Obviously, you are starting to get the picture about just how much I love the holidays. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. We have all heard the story of the pilgrims and the indians. History teaches that Thanksgiving was a day to offer thanks for the many blessings that they had received. I think the holiday has been commercialized and we have lost the centrality of what Thanksgiving is all about. If you are not careful, Thanksgiving just becomes another day that you mark off the calendar. However, if you live from a space of gratitude, you realize that it is a powerful principle that can radically transform your life. Gratitude has carried me through betrayal, loss, grief, disappointment and tragedy. In fact, when one of my dear friends was tragically killed it was gratitude that healed my broken heart. You will be amazed at what gratitude can do for your life.
- Understand that gratitude is not limited to a day and make it a way of life. In just a few weeks we will all be gathered around the table with family and friends. I am getting excited just thinking about the turkey and all the trimmings. While I am not saying that you should not enjoy the holiday, I am saying that you must remember that gratitude is not limited to a day. Gratitude has to become a way of life. Understand how blessed and privileged you are and live from that perspective every day. I’ve come to the conclusion that you can either grumble and complain or you can grow and change. However, your perspective about life has everything to do with the pleasure that you experience in your life. Make gratitude a daily practice and your life will be enriched in more ways than you could ever imagine.
- Rewire your brain to live from a gratitude consciousness. Now, we just established that gratitude is not limited to a date on a calendar. Gratitude is a decision that we have to consciously make every single day of our lives. This sounds good but most people have no clue how to do it. What I have discovered over the years is that we live in a very ungrateful society. My work has given me the pleasure of connecting with people all over the world. I talk to people that live in some of the most horrible conditions imaginable. However, they are always kind, pleasant and appreciative for everything that they have. On the other hand, I talk with Americans that are always unhappy, dissatisfied and comparing themselves to the next person. It seems that in a country that has so much we have found more ways to be ungrateful. Gratitude does not come natural to most. Therefore, you have to train your brain to live from a gratitude consciousness. Personally, I started a gratitude journal years ago. I take time daily to write down things that I am grateful for. This powerful exercise has carried me through some of the most difficult times in my life. Ultimately, my gratitude journal has taught me how to enjoy the journey and be enriched through all of my experiences. The more you cultivate gratitude the more you will grow as a human being.
- You must cultivate a grateful heart. When I first started journaling about gratitude it was not easy. In fact, I was experiencing a lot of loss and disappointment in my life. It did not seem like writing what I am grateful for would do any good. However, the more I wrote the more I found myself being changed. In particular, I found myself more compassionate, more giving and more selfless. In other words, there is something so powerful about gratitude that it rewires the brain, opens the heart and fundamentally changes the way we live. My life became less and less about me and more about how I could make a difference in the lives of others. Gratitude will shatter the hardest heart and cause a person to become a powerful demonstration of love in the world. When you cultivate a grateful heart, you realize that you are blessed to be a blessing to the world around you.
- Gratitude brings greater meaning to our lives. As I stated earlier, gratitude has carried me through some of the most difficult times in my life. When you cultivate a grateful heart, you start to realize that you may not be grateful for everything but you can be grateful in everything. I’ve discovered on this journey that everything will not go your way. You will experience failure, setbacks and disappointments. However, your perspective on your experiences is what truly makes you powerful. You will stop complaining about what you do not have and start to realize how much you do have. In other words, you may not have everything but you are abundantly blessed. You begin to appreciate the small and simple things. After all, those that are things that make us who we are. It is impossible to be grateful and not grow as a person. The more appreciative you are the more alive you become. More importantly, the more alive you become the more aware you are of the world around you. This Thanksgiving do not just enjoy your turkey and trimmings. Instead, take time to express gratitude for all the great things in your life. Never forget the power of gratitude!