At many a Thanksgiving table this Thursday, the gratitude tradition will be practiced. Each person around the table will say one thing that he or she is thankful for. You will hear things such as:
Those are all wonderful things to be grateful for. They are also obvious. They are ideal. How do you give thanks when your meal is a microwave dinner, your health is not the best and you are alone? This is more challenging. It can also be the springboard for the most authentic appreciation you will ever feel.
Gratitude is an expression of wanting what you already have. This sounds, and is, very similar to acceptance.
Sure, even if things are not going your way, you can probably still make a list of 3 things to be thankful about. But what about being thankful for the fact that things are not going your way? Could you be grateful about that?
It is possible; you just have to get some stuff out of the way first.
The thing that most people avoid like the plague is grieving unmet expectations of what they were hoping life would be like. You get sick, you’re lonely, you’re out of work. It is painful to admit that life took a left when you desperately wanted things to go right. It is okay to give yourself permission to move through that pain. Cry, be sad, pout, yell, stomp, grieve the loss. If you need to, work with a therapist. Deal with what needs dealing with. Grief always comes before acceptance.
Once you’ve dealt with feelings of disappointment, anger, etc… you’ll find that acceptance naturally shows up and with it gratitude, without having to force yourself to make lists.
The easiest way to live a grateful life is to live a life of acceptance. You may just surprise yourself when it is your turn at the thanksgiving table by giving thanks for the stuff that has challenged you the most. That is what I am thankful for.
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