It’s November, and we know what that means…THANKSGIVING! Christmas is my favorite holiday, but I love the idea of Thanksgiving (and the stuffing covered in gravy!).
There’s this wall hanging in the Vets’ hall where our community theater group performs (2 actually). It reads, “Thankful- Grateful-Blessed”. Well, for years the hangings have been a pain in the butt for our group, because we always need to remove them for our productions then put them back up again when we’re done. I never really thought about the hangings as anything other than a nuisance- until this Fall…
The past year has been a doozy (for lack of a better, more publicly acceptable word, lol). I’ve been through many things that I never even considered were possible to go through, and had experiences that were soul-crushingly hard-but also, experiences that have left me incredibly grateful.
I’ve written a blog post about gratitude in the past (look it up- it’s there!), because I experienced many things that left me so thankful during my cancer treatments, and realized that practicing gratitude is a year-round, lifetime activity. Now, more than ever, I’m actively practicing gratitude, even in the face of really rough situations, because to be grateful is to appreciate what you have, even when things aren’t as you wish them to be at the moment.
What’s this got to do with Thanksgiving you say?! Well- it has EVERYTHING to do with Thanksgiving, because this is the holiday when we gather and give thanks for all we have. There IS a difference between being thankful and being grateful though, and I’ll try to explain how they are, in fact, connected, yet different…
Thankfulness is a reaction.
That’s a bold statement to make, Jen…
Yes, it is- but it’s true. Thankfulness is an emotion. When something good happens to us, or something exciting happens, it’s easy to be thankful. Think of it- someone surprises you with a gift- what do you feel in the moment? Right- a rush of thankfulness. What do you say? “Thank you!” Get it? Being thankful is a great emotion, but it is just that- an emotion, and emotions eventually fade. Sure, you may think of that moment of getting a gift, or hearing good news, etc. for the rest of the day or even for a few days, but eventually you’re going to move on with the rest of your life.
Gratitude is a state of being. One that you CHOOSE to stay in.
Have you heard the phrase “Attitude of Gratitude”? Yeah, it’s super corny…But it’s true. Gratitude is an attitude of appreciation, no matter the circumstance(s). Some of the most grateful people in the world are also some of the poorest people with the least amount of luxuries, etc.- and why? Because in addition to feeling thanks for whatever favors they are given, they choose to wake up each morning and appreciate what they DO have, and that gives lets them have hope for the future. Here is a great quote about gratitude:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” (Melody Beattie)
Isn’t that an amazing quote?! It’s everything about gratitude in a nutshell!
So, to recap: Thankfulness is an external thing- like, when something happens to us, or for us, we have the feeling of thankfulness, but Gratitude is practice that we must work on in our inner-self, and a practice that we must work on constantly to feel appreciative no matter what our circumstances are.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone. Be thankful in the moments to feel thanks, choose to be forever grateful for all that you have, and remember to look for the blessings in every situation of your life.
Love to each of you.