Radical Gratitude—The Practical Side
I have to admit that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A table overflowing with homemade food, family and friends gathered together and of course everything pumpkin. I also love Thanksgiving because the focus is on giving thanks and sharing with others—not getting things or spending money. I love Christmas as much as the next person, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all of the spending and presents.
Giving thanks in all circumstances first became a life focus for me about 10 years ago. A friend of mine challenged me over the course of one year to list 1,000 things I was grateful for without repeating any. I started the challenge in January and surprisingly completed it around November. I had thought it would be nearly impossible to identify 1,000 different things, but once I got started the momentum kept me going.
I discovered many things about gratitude over the course of this 1 year challenge, but three of them still stand out to me all of these years later. These three things include the practice, the mindset and the gift of gratitude.
Practice: Being grateful involves practice—especially if you are more of a “realist”—meaning your natural disposition is not overly optimistic. Practicing gratitude requires the mental and emotional work of seeking out the good in every situation over and over again—when you feel like it, and when you don’t. It means stopping to take in a sunrise and appreciate its beauty when you are tired and ready to get from the parking lot to your desk and plop down.
Mindset: Gratitude is a mindset. The Oxford definition of mindset is, “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” To experience feelings of gratitude regularly you have to have the cheesy sounding “attitude of gratitude.” Meaning, you have to set your thinking to focus on people, objects and experiences worthy of gratitude—when these are obvious and when they are not.
Gift: Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving. Once you begin practicing gratitude and eventually adopt a grateful mindset, thankfulness will give you gifts. Gifts of peace, perspective—seeing the best in difficult situations and perseverance will abound in your life. I have found that the more I practice gratitude the more peaceful I feel. This peace encourages me to slow down and search for the good in every circumstance. And that peace becomes a quiet strength that helps me weather hard life seasons and appreciate the smallest moments of beauty—because such moments are always available if we have eyes to see them.
If you are struggling this approaching holiday season you are not alone. The holiday season is especially challenging for so many people as it evokes strong emotions about family, life and sometimes loss. A seasoned Orlando therapist can provide the support you need to not only weather this time but identify and put into place the skills you need to thrive in life mentally and emotionally going forward. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our mental health clinicians.