Are You Thankful and Grateful Enough?

November 29, 2012 by Rose Cook

As we head into December, I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, good food and of course plenty of thanks and gratitude.  While I try and count my blessings all year long, this time of year is especially dear to my heart as I love having an entire day dedicated to giving thanks. As Thanksgiving day approached it seemed like a good time to read a book from a new author I discovered, M.J. Ryan. Giving Thanks: The Gifts of Gratitude, offers inspiration and enlightenment on how to truly be thankful and grateful and more importantly, why we should be.

Economically speaking, times have been tough for way too many people the last several years.  I’m sure we all know someone who is or has been unemployed due to downsizing and lay-offs. Sadly, homes are still being foreclosed on and jobs are still tough to find. Add to that events like Hurricane Sandy that devastated so many along the east coast and it’s easy to see why being grateful isn’t always easy for the many people who are struggling just to get by each day.

Ryan’s book recognizes that life isn’t always so great and o
ften can just plain stink.  However, how we handle some of life’s most challenging times can make the difference between sinking or swimming. And while we can’t always control our circumstances,  we can control how we react to them.  Ryan helps us to see how our negativity can only be counterproductive. A quote from her book (which can be found on Amazon.com) is a great example of what her writing teaches us, “Gratitude makes us feel good because it helps us widen our frame of vision. Under depression or stress, we can develop tunnel vision, seeing only this problem, that difficulty. We can get overtaken by a heavy, dark feeling of despair. But when we experience a sense of gratitude, we give ourselves a dose of mental sunshine. Suddenly the world seems brighter, and we have more options.”

She goes on to explain, “One of the most incredible truths about gratitude is that it is impossible to feel both the positive emotion of thankfulness and a negative emotion such as anger or fear at the same time. Gratitude births only positive feelings–love, compassion, joy, and hope. As we focus on what we are thankful for, fear, anger, bitterness simply melts away, seemingly without effort.”

I was particularly enlightened when she nudged us to dig a bit deeper.  It’s wonderful to FEEL the gratitude, but even more impactful to ACT on that gratitude.  How can you actively express some gratitude today and now?  Say “thank you” out loud to your co-worker or spouse?  Make a donation to a worthy cause?

Whether you’re looking for an uplifting quick read to recharge your batteries or a guide to help with a major attitude adjustment, I recommend Giving Thanks: The Gifts of Gratitude, as an inspirational and educational handbook.

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