The month of November is a great time to develop a gratitude practice. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, the spirit of the season seems to set the tone for gratitude.
This blog series, #30DaysofGratitude, hopes to share bits of gratitude and create an awareness of how gratitude can change our mindset.
Every day this month, I, along with other writers, teachers and friends, will post about all things gratitude. Come along for the ride and let me know what you are most grateful for every day – I know we can inspire one another.
The choice to live a mindful and grateful life seems so simple in theory. We hear quotes like ‘Take time to smell the roses,’ ‘Live in the moment,’ and ‘Be grateful for what you do have instead of complaining about what you don’t have,’ all the time.
And all these statements make sense, right? Then why is feeling grateful sometimes so difficult to do? Three years into writing about gratitude (formally on this blog) and many more years of keeping a gratitude journal have taught me that living mindfully, in the present moment and practicing gratitude are just that – a practice.
According to Brother David Steindl-Rast, who recently appeared on Oprah’s show Super Soul Sunday, all human beings long to be happy and joyful. The 91 year old benedictine monk, scholar, and speaker believes that while we are all connected in our desire to be happy, what we truly want is to have a happiness that lasts – which, he says, is impossible.
He suggests the answer is in living joyfully and seeing gratitude as a way of being – a way of living. He uses the phrase ‘grateful living’ and defines it as “Being grateful at all times no matter what happens.” Steindl-Rast believes we can feel the joy of gratefulness even in the midst of suffering.
Clearly we are not happy or grateful during suffering though right? We cannot be happy when we get laid off, we suffer loss of a loved one or receive a frightening diagnoses. Steindl-Rast suggests “Every moment, Life gives you the opportunity to do something with what you are given.”
He goes on to say that “People who practice grateful living experience and become aware that every moment lived is a given moment – a gift – not earned or brought, but a gift freely given. Every moment is a gift and an opportunity to enjoy life.”
This reminds me so much of the 1997 movie Life is Beautiful. The story is about a man and his son who are taken to a concentration camp during WWII. The father is fiercely determined to shelter his son from the horrors of war, so he convinces his son that the Holocaust is a game and the grand prize for winning is a tank. He makes life beautiful for his son. He chooses grateful living in the midst of horror. He chooses grateful living instead of fear. He chooses grateful living for the sake of his boy.
So while we can be grateful in every moment, we DO NOT have to be grateful for what is happening around us. We can be present to life itself and be grateful for the moments. And the beauty of moments? They (gratefully!) keep on coming.
For gratitude to make a difference in our lives, we need to practice it regularly. By making gratitude a routine, or a practice year round and not only in November, we will reap the benefits and begin to feel more joy.
What joyful moments can you enjoy today? Some I enjoyed just today included quiet moments with my mom while we sat waiting impatiently for her to have a biopsy, smelling the chili I made for dinner and tasting some delicious red wine while typing this post.
Join me as I share my gratitude journal findings for the next 30 days. Read what other authors, teachers, business owners and parents have to say about their experiences with gratitude. Read along and join us. I’d love to read what YOU are grateful for right here in the comments below.
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