This time of year is a celebration for many cultures. Whether we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the miracle of the oil for the Menorah, or the enlightenment of the Buddha, it is a time of joy, reflection and most importantly, gratitude.
Tis the season to show the people in our lives, from our family and friends to our mail carrier and hair stylist, how much we value them. We want to show our gratitude.
At its simplest, gratitude is the emotion we feel when we receive some positive and unexpected benefit – like when someone takes us to lunch, brings us a coffee, or is friendly and helpful – any number of small gestures that are part of a healthy relationship and a civilized society. An attitude of gratitude is about recognizing and noting these feelings, both externally, to the giver, with a word of thanks, and internally, with a thought to yourself about the kindness received, is part of what creates happiness and a positive world view;
Sometimes, though, things are not so wonderful. People can be rude, we experience loss, we mess up and make mistakes. Contrary to how we may feel, this is when we need gratitude the most. We need to reflect on the negative and try to find some positive in it. When there’s a rough patch in a relationship, we have an opportunity for self-reflection and a chance to build greater understanding and intimacy. Losing a job might be the best push towards a change in careers, and a sweater that doesn’t fit, or doesn’t flatter, is a valuable, albeit, frustrating lesson in gauge, ease, and personal style. Mistakes and failures of all kinds often give us the ultimate gift -the opportunity for personal growth.
The power of gratitude starts with an attitude, but really blossoms when we take time to recognize, reflect, and record our gratitude. Writing down the benefits we find, both in the positive and negative happenings in our life is an excellent way to bring the power of gratitude into our life. Maybe keep a gratitude journal, or just jot it down in your calendar or day-planner, or share your gratitude with loved ones at dinner. If it’s hard to do, start with one tiny, specific thing each day. It doesn’t have to be fancy.. The key is consistency.
When you focus on gratitude, you’ll bring this happy holiday spirit with you and every day of the year will feel like a gift.