Gratitude Becomes You
by Judith Sherven and James Sniechowski
Yes, it's that time again, when giant turkeys and homemade pies entice us to stay at the table longer than we otherwise might. With Thanksgiving as our national day of gratitude, we typically celebrate it with wonderful home cooked meals. We gobble them up, ask for seconds, and then return for left overs before we're finally ready to call it a day.
But what about the rest of your life? How well do you gobble up the gifts that are given to you? How well do you show your gratitude then? Because no matter the challenges, there are still so many, many gifts that life bestows, not just once in awhile, here and there, but over and over again.
How Well Do You Receive?
For instance, how well do you receive compliments? Not just hear the words--but truly hear the other person's care when they comment on your sense of humor, your new haircut, your bold, visionary idea at work. Do you take it in? Let it fill your sense of self, perhaps even your heart and soul?
Or do you laugh in embarrassment and wave it off?
Perhaps you roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders and mumble, "Oh, it's nothing."
Or do you tell the person what it means to hear such caring praise from someone you admire?
Maybe you take a minute to let it soak in while you hold the other's gaze, and then finally say a deeply meant "Thank you."
Without gratitude, you can never feel spiritually full. You can never accept and trust that life is joyous and rewarding.
Now we're well aware that life can deal out some pretty lousy blows, betrayals and horrible losses. But that's only part of the picture.
And, that's the point.
If we get stuck in anger that Fran and Mike got the metaphorical drumsticks, and Amy and Jed got the wishbone, then we'll never be able to rejoice in the moist, succulent breast meat covered with Aunt Anna's divine gravy.
And while we may say grace before the Thanksgiving meal, the point of a life well lived is to live in grace as much as possible. That can only happen when gratitude becomes you.
Living In Grace
What does it mean to live in grace?
First you experience gratitude for what you have. And then you grow your appreciation for the gifts that come with your everyday life--even the challenges that help you grow.
Little by little, you start to notice how gratitude becomes more natural to you, almost instinctive--a kind of everyday grace. It allows you to more fully experience and appreciate all that happens. In time gratitude becomes part of your identity. And that's how gratitude becomes you, who you really are.
All that's required is greater attention to what comes to you and blesses your life, no matter how large, no matter how small. With greater attention, you achieve more minutes, then hours, and finally days that are lived in a state of grace. And then you feel centered, relaxed, trusting, aware of the value in the moment, and energized by all the possibilities before you.
It just takes commitment to living a fuller life, a more enjoyable and enjoyed life.
When you stretch yourself to want more from life, to expand your capacity for spiritual satisfaction and meaning, then gratitude can be found in any of the lessons that this life has to offer.
So this month, and any month, make it a practice to see the opportunity in the crisis, the blessing in the disappointment, and the joy when it goes just like you want it to. When you do, gratitude will, indeed, become you.
About the Authors:
Judith Sherven, PhD and James Sniechowski, PhD are America's leading husband and wife relationship experts. Their most recent book, The Smart Couple'sGuide to the Wedding of Your Dreams, available in December, is already receiving wide-ranging acclaim. Be sure to sign up for one or more of their free email newsletters by visiting their website at www.judithandjim.com