Thanksgiving Traditions and Gratitude

thanksgivingWith Thanksgiving right around the corner in my part of the world, I started thinking about a little tradition we started in our family some years ago.  It was an easy tradition to implement and only required adding a small piece of paper and something to write with, to each place setting.    Our family is a diverse group so at the beginning of our meal, we usually observe a moment of silence and then everyone writes down something they are thankful for this year.  Then, we go around the table and give each person who wishes to share, an opportunity to talk about what they are grateful for.  This has throw a few guests for a loop over the years, but for us, it is a very meaningful way to start our Thanksgiving feast.  I wish I’d have saved all the small pieces of paper over the years.  If I were starting the tradition over today, I certainly would have.  My children and grandchildren have come up with some very heartwarming, funny, and entertaining comments over the years and our family has shared both laughter and tears.  Anyway… I’ve begun thinking about what I’m going to write on my paper this year and I started thinking about what it is to be grateful.

For many of us, this time of year serves as a reminder to spend some time thinking about what’s good in our lives and for others – well, they seem to treat everyday like Thanksgiving, always being grateful for what they have. Are there two separate schools of thought on whether being grateful is necessary or beneficial?  Is feeling grateful only required from a religious standpoint?

How about you? Are you grateful for things in your life?  Are you a “blessings” counter?

Perhaps you are grateful for some of the material things you have like your home, a dependable car, and food to eat; or, perhaps the things you are grateful for are more personal like being grateful for your spouse, your children or someone special in your life.  Either way, the concept of being grateful for what you have can be difficult for some people to understand.

There are some people who, instead of focusing on what they have, find it easier to complain, be constantly thinking about what they don’t have, or that they would be happier if they just had fill in the blank here.

Do you really have to be wealthy to feel grateful for everything you have in life? Does having a lot of money in the bank automatically make you happy? The answer to both of these questions is no.  While it’s true that having money makes life easier and it most certainly takes the pressure off from having to wonder how to keep a roof over your head, or where your next meal is coming from, it doesn’t buy you happiness and you don’t need physical wealth to feel wealthy. In fact, there is no evidence to show that those who have “everything they could ever want” are more grateful for what they have than those who have almost nothing.

So if wealth, or a lack of wealth, is not an indicator of having abundance and feeling gratitude in your life, what is?  Why are some people more grateful for the things in their lives and others not. What makes us feel grateful?  Is it important to be grateful about the things we have?  Are there benefits to being grateful? And if there are benefits, can gratefulness be learned?  Can we develop a sense of gratitude or is it something you just either have or don’t have? What about those who you are grateful to? Our spouse, a friend or neighbor, someone who helped us with something? Does someone feeling grateful to them effect them?  If so, how?

Whether you call it being grateful, counting your blessings, or something else, there are clearly two groups of people when it comes to this topic.  There are those who are only think about being grateful when they are reminded about it, and those who seem to be constantly grateful for every little thing in their lives. What separates these people? Some might say God but if that’s true, then how do you explain those who are grateful without faith in God.

That’s what I’m going to think about this week.  I’m going to publish several articles this week that will take a deeper look at gratitude,what it means to be grateful and what it might mean to your life both for those who feel grateful as well as those who don’t.  I hope you’ll have something to contribute to the discussion.

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving,





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