The holidays have totally crept up on me this year. It seems like just yesterday that the leaves were starting to turn, the air was starting to feel crisper, and summer faded into fall.
And now, here we are. Thanksgiving week is upon us and the holiday season has begun.
As usual, the holidays, and Thanksgiving in particular, is a time that makes you think of giving thanks. Of practicing gratitude, of sharing gratitude, of cultivating it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude this past year – about what it means to me, what it doesn’t mean, how I choose to practice it, and how I don’t.
I’m enthusiastic as ever about the power of practicing gratitude and how it can help shift your mindset. A simple gratitude practice each and every day can go a long way in creating a positive mindset.
And at the same time, I’ve refined my definition of gratitude, as I think it can sometimes get misconstrued or misinterpreted.
Below is a snippet I wrote for the Monday Migraine Pick-Me-Ups. It’s one of my favorite of these weekly messages, because I worked out a lot of my questions and frustrations surrounding gratitude practices while writing it.
My hope is that it helps you to think about gratitude in a different way, and helps you to find your own definition of gratitude. One that makes you feel free and powerful and joyful and light.
And Happy Thanksgiving :)
Let’s Talk About Gratitude
Sometimes, I think the idea of gratitude can get a little misconstrued. When life is full of hardships and struggle and loss and sadness, it can be difficult – annoying even – when someone suggests to “just practice gratitude” for everything going on in your life.
I think this is because sometimes, we mistake gratitude for having to be pleased about or happy about everything we go through in life. But I don’t think it has to be that way.
I think gratitude is about honestly appraising your life. Of seeing the pain and the beauty. Of seeing the loss and the gains. Of seeing the joy and the sadness.
It’s not about looking at everything – of the big mess than can be our lives – and saying, “I’m so happy about all of this.” But it is about looking at that big mess, seeing beauty in it, and being grateful for what you are learning from all of it.
There is freedom in this perspective. It doesn’t force you to put on a fake smile and pretend everything is great and wonderful. It doesn’t force you to pretend that you are loving every minute of your pain or suffering. Because in truth, you might not be happy about all of it.
But it does allow you to also see the beauty in your experiences, and to learn from those experiences each step of the way. For the harder parts – they are teaching you. Going through those parts gives you valuable information and tools that you will carry with you as you move forward, helping you to approach roadblocks in a new way, with greater wisdom.
And that is something to be grateful for.
You don’t have to be happy about everything to be grateful for this beautiful life of yours.
But in case you forgot today? Your life is beautiful, and so are the lessons in it.
(The above is an excerpt from the Monday Migraine Pick-Me-Ups. Want to see more like this? Sign up to get messages like this one delivered straight to your inbox every Monday morning. Give yourself the gift of a little inspiration, motivation, and reminders that you aren’t alone.)