I’ll bet you thought you would see pictures of pumpkin pie and a turkey here. Sorry. This is about a different thanksgiving. The dubious narrative that forms the backdrop to the traditional version of our upcoming holiday aside, formalizing a day of thankfulness and gratitude is a good idea. I keep a gratitude journal and although I have often gotten very busy and neglected to do the journaling part from time to time, the habit, once established, of looking for things to be grateful for each day has not been dropped. Indeed, it has become quite effortless. Initially I struggled to find one thing each day. Some days I could only write that I was grateful for not being in such and such war-torn place. I still am, although I know full well violence has a long reach. The true power of the practice came in the realization I was overlooking the many smaller gifts the universe had provided. The cat’s being silly, the opportunity to compliment a stranger and better their day, making a new friend on line through a common interest were all things to be grateful for. If it was sunny, I was grateful for the nice day and if it rained I was grateful to not have to manually water the garden.
The simple truth is, it is more enjoyable to go through life looking at a glass as half full rather than half empty. Start using the gratitude exercise and a day will come along when you look at the glass and suddenly realize that it is in actuality completely full. You just did not have the clarity of vision to see it. The glass is half full of water but also half full of air. Don’t you need both? Aren’t you grateful for the atmosphere? Aren’t you glad you can breath? Ask someone with lung disease and they’ll tell you how important that “empty” half is.
Why has your vision, your perception, changed?. One simple reason. Gratitude is insidious. It infiltrates your brain and actually changes your biochemistry. Look out, it might actually make you happy! You don’t need a PhD in biochemistry to explore this phenomenon, it has been reported and commented on in mainstream media. Best of all you can test it for yourself in complete safety, unless of course, you are wedded to negative feelings. Give it a fair trial, it takes thirty days to build a habit. To lazy to journal? Just spend five or ten minutes each of those days thinking of what your are grateful for. Surely you can spare five minutes a day to feel better. Your brain will reward you, I promise.