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  • Kitty Edwards

Opening to Gratitude

“List your blessings and you will walk through those gates of thanksgiving and into the fields of joy.” ~ Garrison Keillor

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to step into gratitude. It is a time to gather together in celebration of life and all its gifts.

Many cultures practice thanksgiving rituals at this harvest-time of year. Our tradition in the United States dates back to 1621 when the immigrant colonists shared a feast with the Wampanoag Indians. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day to be a national holiday.

Our ancestors knew that the true challenge is to practice gratitude when we are fearful about the future, angry about our situation in life, and saddened by our losses.

From my experience in working with those who are struggling with a terminal diagnosis, the practice of gratitude can lessen fear and provide opportunities to live a more engaged life with the time they have before them.

Researchers tell us that people who regularly practice gratitude are more optimistic, enthusiastic and energetic. In general, those that express appreciation function at a “higher level” and build communities and organizations that function at a “higher level.”

In the coming year I want to deepen my practice in gratitude. There is no better resource for this journey than Angeles Arrien’s Living in Gratitude, Mastering the Art of Giving Thanks Every Day. It is a year-long guide in which each month she offers cross-cultural insights and practices gathered from the wisdom keepers of the ages. In her monthly chapters she asks that we consider such topics as “Cultivating Peace,” “Attend to the Heart,” “Embrace Nature” and recognize “The Power of Equanimity.” Each month she advises us to review and integrate our practice of gratitude into our work, relationships, finances and our own health.

For the month of November, Arrien suggests that we shift our perspective by practicing “Grateful Seeing.” She invites us to focus on what is working in our lives instead of what is not working. By changing our perspective, she promises that this will become a season of miracles.

Join me this holiday season in practicing gratitude. And, if you are enchanted, let’s continue our practice into 2017 by embracing the concept of “Be Grateful Everyday” from our No Regrets Project.

Need a reminder to Be Grateful Everyday? Consider a No Regrets Project bracelet this holiday season. LEARN MORE >

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