November is considered by many to be Gratitude Month, a time to reflect with appreciation that which we have experienced and received during the past year. That’s part of the origin of the many Harvest Festivals, Fall Fairs and holidays expressing thanks for the harvest. The changing seasons and more dot the calendar. November gets our traditional holiday schedules into gear and we prepare to spend time with friends and family celebrating our relationships and gratitude for each other.
John F. Kennedy said “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Hosting or participating in parties and events is one way to express gratitude for what we have. President Kennedy’s words go beyond simply expressing gratitude by suggesting we should strive to live in gratitude. That can prove to be a difficult practice in the present….if we allow it to be difficult.
Sure, we live in a period of certain uncertainty, to a point. Wildfires, power outages, earthquakes and more make our environment literally unstable. We are transfixed to our smart phones, checking to see if our locations are under threat of blackout. We download the newest earthquake alert app so we can be notified seconds before an earthquake occurs – anywhere in the world. We watch with nervous anticipation as the latest wildfire consumes vegetation and homes and wonder if we might be next in line. It’s easy to live in anxiety.
It’s also possible to train our thinking to live in gratitude. Years ago I began a daily practice of literally writing down five things I am grateful for. Early lists were obvious, my wife, my daughters and grandchildren, my dogs, my job and co-workers, etc. Sometimes in a calmer, maybe even romantic mood I could find appreciation in nature or work at the hands of others creating art. Recently I’ve even added to my gratitude list such things as the creation of new technologies, and the generosity of others. I also am grateful to those with open-minded willingness to try to live in gratitude themselves. I have witnessed the transformation over time of those who have also begun to write a gratitude list and watched their own lives become transformed. Those who have been successful in adopting this practice have become happier themselves, and make those around them happier as well. Wouldn’t it be great to see this become contagious? Try it for 30 days. Happy Gratitude Month.