As we prepare our homes and hearts for Thanksgiving, I know for many of us it is a struggle to feel the warmth and joy of the holiday season this year. This becomes more especially true when relationship and family dreams are shattered. But as one world faith leader encourages the virtue of gratitude, and I ponder on why and how gratitude has been a personal blessing to me, I find it only fitting that today’s blog focus on gratitude.
In the past I have struggled with the basic concept of gratitude. Doesn’t a focus of counting our blessings just act as another way for us to excuse or ignore the abuse and hardships in our life? Counting blessings doesn’t fix or create solutions to problems, so why waste our time on looking at what is going right instead of focusing our best energy on what is going wrong?
But like all really good things, the lack of sometimes obvious value hides the incredible gifts waiting, begging for us to practice that person-expanding virtue of faith.
Like meditation and prayer, gratitude helps us to tap into better parts of our brain and spirit. We can set worry, rumination and fear aside, considering the good in our life. This practice alone creates a cascade of good hormones and therefore new space in our brain, now relaxed, to feel and think on the higher plain of creativity, play, and yes, solution finding. The disempowerment we so often feel when oppressed by hardship, control, and steel-cold laws begins to be replaced by a sense of safety, hope, resources and even voice when we can focus on what is happening in our life we DO have a say over and that does bring joy, blessing and help.
For many of us the world over, hardships last for years, testing the human spirit to the extreme. It is gratitude that brings light, hope and the baby steps of progress forward needed to combat the misery, distrust and disempowerment trials otherwise emphasize. Like turning on a light that evaporates shadows, gratitude reduces the size of what is wrong in our life and expands upon the blessings, doorways and resources in our life.
Let us add to our armory of relief and joy, let us practice gratitude as one more empowering step from the dark night to a bright future.