The Essential Practice of Giving Thanks
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s a favorite holiday. It’s core premise of gratitude for all our blessings and the yearly tradition of friends and family sharing good food around a table is comforting and heart-warming. There’s the enjoyment of the traditional dishes, new recipes, the memories of Thanksgivings past, and the making of new memories around the table this year. If we take the opportunity to look deeper, the holiday points us to a cross-cultural perennial wisdom of daily thanksgiving or gratitude which can transform every area of our lives.
Gratitude opens the heart of the giver and receiver. Its practices are part of all cultures and religions around the world, including gift giving, verbal acknowledgement, prayer, offering food, thank you notes, and celebratory traditions such as anniversaries and birthdays. What wisdom and history have shown us is that not only is gratitude transformative, it’s essential. In the words of Angeles Arrien, from her book, Living in Gratitude, “…the expression of gratitude continues to be the glue that consistently holds society and relationships together..(it) is essential to humankind’s sustainability and survival. Gratitude’s stabilizing and healing effects, which have been researched from multiple standpoints – cultural, psychological, physical, spiritual, even financial – have made it abundantly clear that the benefits of living a grateful life are irrefutable.”
So, a daily gratitude practice is both practical and essential medicine in the current climate of disruption, judgement, and breakdown of human decency that we read and see in the news on a daily basis. It heals the division, separation and despair we can feel both inside and outside ourselves.
One of my favorite gratitude practices is my gratitude jar. At the end of the day, I write down something I’m grateful for on a colored piece of paper – an unexpected gift, experience I had or a person I connected with – and I put it in my glass jar. It sits on my desk as a daily reminder of the good in my life. As the year goes by, the jar fills up and every time I look at it, I can feel my heart smile. It reminds me of the good, true and beautiful that is present daily in my life.
Create your own daily practice of gratitude. A good resource for ideas and inspiration is Brother David Steindl-Rast’s website, gratefulness.org.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday. Take the opportunity to look past the challenging people and experiences you may encounter. Acknowledge a loved one for the difference they make in your life and be open to the unexpected blessings that day and every day. It will change your life and the lives of those around you for the better.
Sabrina Roblin is an experienced executive, mentor, trainer, and coach who “walks a spiritual path with practical feet”, and incorporates perennial wisdom in her practice. She has worked for organizations that include Wells Fargo Bank, Broderbund Software, and The Coaches Training Institute. Contact her for coaching. A sample session is complementary.