I know, Thanksgiving was last week. That is precisely why I chose this week to write about gratitude. My daughter pointed out to me on Black Friday that it's strange that people in our country say how thankful for everything they have on Thursday, and then go out and buy a whole lot more on Friday. Now, I know that much of that buying is for gifts for others, and I'm not here to shame anyone for buying gifts, but it is strange, none-the-less if you think about it.
Gratitude is a tricky, slippery thing. You can be grateful at the same time as wanting more. If you're only able to afford beans or rice to eat, you can have gratitude that you have those things, but still be hopeful for steak or salmon in the near future. And for some people, gratitude can become a warped thing because they're glad they have basic necessities covered, but they do not think they are deserving of anything more or that they ever will have anything more. Once that line is crossed, stinginess can set in. One can be grateful for what one has, but hold too tightly to it & not be open to anything new or different because of it. So, it's important to practice gratitude with thanksGIVING.
That was not a misprint. Gratitude is the attitude that we ought have about life, the people in it and our material goods. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, should be an outward expression, an action. An example of this would be to have gratitude, or be thankful for a bowl of rice in our bellies Thanksgiving would be to express that gratitude using our voice and consider if there is someone else who might need some rice that day. This may seem extreme to some, but it can be life changing.
When you have your next meal, and while you are eating it you find yourself grateful to have something to give you strength and energy for the day, that is a good thing. If you eat it, however, and while you eat you think of a family that is struggling to put enough food on the table, or a widower who might not get a home cooked meal very often, or a food shelf in your area that is seeking donations, it amplifies your gratitude, but gives you a place to express that gratitude with giving, thankful giving. Make an extra meal and bring it to someone, or bag up a bag of grocery items to drop off at the local food pantry.
How about when you're driving your vehicle & find yourself warm and cozy and glad that you haven't had vehicle troubles in awhile? You could practice thanksgiving by paying for an oil change for someone who is driving a jalopy that is barely holding together, or even paying for a vehicle repair that they need done.
If you're reading an excellent book in your spare time, think of someone who might like to read it after you and pass it on instead of selling it on an online marketplace.
If you have plenty of warm clothing, pass some on to someone else who needs it, especially if they have children growing out of things every 3 months!
Even when it comes to mundane things like tax season, consider paying for a senior friend's taxes to be prepared for them so that they do not have to fret over how to pay for that on their fixed income.
There are so many things that we take for granted and do not even approach with gratitude because we've never thought to be grateful to have enough money to pay to have our taxes prepared, for instance. Despite how we feel about the tax laws, we can find gratitude to have the ability to pay. If we practice enough, our gratefulness should have no limits.
Once we find gratitude, it shouldn't stop with us. Giving should be a natural expression of gratitude, because we've all experienced what it is like to do without and not have quite enough. When that need is met, there is a resting, a bit of relaxing that can take place inside. That relaxing is a bit of something that is beneficial for us and would be beneficial for our entire society! While we cannot help everyone in the world, we can help at least one other person. And once you start, it can become a bit addicting. Giving something to someone that they truly need is actually quite fun. Try it. Do not limit yourself to giving just during the holidays, but all throughout the year, and you'll find yourself feeling more gratitude for what you have & more outward looking for needs that you can meet in your community!