Thursday, November 28, 2013

Discover Gratitude this Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving morning, I get up early, sit quietly with a cup of coffee, and write an ABC gratitude list in my journal. I note the A-B-Cs down the side of the page and then quickly fill in with something that I am grateful for.

Apples, Baseball, Coffee, Dandelions

For instance, from last year’s list, November 21, 2012:

Elvis, Friends, Goats

And, an oldie from almost 25 years ago, November 23, 1989:

Hope, Intuition, Joy, Kindness

If you love lists like I do, you’ve got to love making a gratitude list. I think the ABC list is carefree and casual and spontaneous. I simply write whatever pops into my mind and sometimes surprise myself.

I remember another type of gratitude list. Many years ago, I was in a job that I didn’t really fit into any longer, but at the time I could not see how to get out of it. A friend suggested that each night for a month I make a list of six things about that job for which I was grateful. Some nights it was difficult to come of with even one thing for the list, but I made myself come up with at least the required six.

Making the lists did not necessarily make it easier to go to work, but it did help change my attitude a bit toward my days there.

Lemonade, Magic, Nightingales, Ohio River, Paris

You could also use the ABCs to guide your list to include only foods or animals or people. One year I listed authors. Or you could go for a list of totally non-material things:

Quiet, Reading, Starlight, Today

Or how about a non-gratitude list if you are really in a bad mood? Even a non-gratitude list will give you gratitude if you can just flip the list around.

For example, I may not be grateful for floods, plagues or pestilence, but I am grateful that I am not experiencing any of those right now. I may not be grateful for all the torn-up streets in Louisville — construction, utility company updates, repaving, bridges — but just think how grateful we will all be when eventually the streets are clear and smooth.

Umbrellas, Vegetables, Writing

It seems to me that having a grateful heart wards off resentment, envy, self-pity, and despair. Gratitude is the cornerstone of a spiritual life. And the only way I know to foster gratitude is to say “thank you” often.

Say ‘”thank you” out loud. Whisper it before falling asleep. Say it to your family and friends. Wave to the stranger who lets you out in traffic. Write thank you every morning in your journal.

Buy a small black book to keep by your bedside and every evening record those people, places, events, and things that you are grateful for.

eXcellence, Yellow, Zinnias.

–Lucy M. Pritchett
Happy Thanksgiving!

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