“God gave you a gift of 86 400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you ” ― William Arthur Ward
Imagine that you wake up tomorrow morning and everything you care about was gone. Your family, loved ones, and friends aren’t in your life any longer. You no longer have the security of your job to fall back on. All your worldly possessions have gone up in flames, and even your health is on the fritz. Before we go any further, I want to say I hope nothing like what I have mentioned is taking place in your life, but if it is, the emotion of gratitude is more important than ever. The point of the exercise is to really imagine for a moment what it would be like to lose what you so often take for granted. Sometimes we don’t really appreciate what we have until it’s gone, right? I will admit that gratitude doesn’t come naturally for me. I was fortunate as a child to have nice things. I was never lacking what I needed and wanted. I really did appreciate what I had, but my upbringing also led me to struggle with a case of entitled. I had to surmount the attitude that I deserved to have what I wanted without doing the fundamental hard work. In my early adulthood I wanted a life so far beyond what I had that it left me feeling empty and unfulfilled. I was neglecting the countless blessings I had around me every day.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
I now know how unbelievably important the emotion of gratitude is for my happiness, success, and health, and I really work hard to bask in the feeling of appreciation and thanks whenever I can. I want you to expand your consciousness with gratitude as well. So, I have a challenge for you this week. Use the holiday of Thanksgiving to open up the channels of gratitude in your life. Start now, you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving Day. List five things you are grateful for each day this week, and pick a new domain of life to focus on each day. (Relationships one day, your health the next, etc.) Make this the most meaningful and thankful week you have ever had.
Here are five areas of life to list five things you are thankful for.
1. List five people in your life are you grateful for. (Think about family, friends and those most important to you. But don’t forget about neighbors, acquaintances who have helped you out, chance meetings that led to an opportunity, or even kind strangers.)
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ― John F. Kennedy
2. List five things you’re grateful for about your home, community, or where you live. (Consider all the items you possess, the resources available in your community, the luxuries you get to indulge in, and the conveniences all around you.)
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus
3. List five things about your physical body you’re grateful for. (Hey no excuses on this one. There is something you can be grateful for. Can you get out of bed and walk? Can you talk, see, and listen to the world around you? Even if you don’t like something about your body or you are physically unable to do what you used to do, what can you find to appreciate about your body?)
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” – Buddha
4. List five life experiences you are grateful for. (What amazing experiences have you had? What have you gone through that has changed your life for the better? Think about any life experience you have been through. Good memories that you cherish, and bad moment that have taught you about how to live a better life.)
“True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” ― Oprah Winfrey
5. List five personal skill and talent you possess that you’re grateful for. (We all have unique gifts and talents. Stop comparing your skills to someone else’s. Appreciate your talents and be thankful you have the ability to develop and use your gifts to make the world around you a better place.)
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” ― Alphonse Karr
Throughout the week focus on cultivating the emotion of gratitude. If you really want to feel the positive effects keep this practice going for a couple of weeks. Get creative and open up your focus of appreciation to things you have never thought about appreciating before.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ― William Arthur Ward