Norton: Gratitude that transcends Thanksgiving
As the leaves turn and November arrives, gratitude gets its time in the spotlight. Thanksgiving reminds us to pause and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. But true gratitude is more than a holiday ritual or fleeting feeling — it’s a daily mindset we can cultivate all year long.
Gratitude in the moment is powerful, but even more transformational is developing a lifestyle of gratitude. When we intentionally practice gratitude daily, it reshapes our perspective. Instead of focusing on what we’re lacking, we start noticing the gifts that surround us — a warm bed, health, and friends who listen. Our minds default from dissatisfaction to appreciation.
Life can sometimes feel like a heavy burden. Challenges loom large while blessings fade into the background. We get caught in a cycle of complaining and forget to appreciate what we have. An attitude of gratitude lifts us out of this negative mindset. When we intentionally cultivate gratitude daily, our whole perspective shifts.
Gratitude starts as a mindset — a lens for viewing life. When we look for reasons to be grateful, they appear everywhere. Even on the hardest days, there are gifts if we pause to notice them — morning sunshine, a call from a friend, the laughter of a child. Gratitude opens our eyes to beauty.
Living gratefully does not mean ignoring life’s hardships or pretending to be happy all the time. Gratitude co-exists with grief, anger, sadness and other challenging emotions. It simply means that in our toughest moments, we still acknowledge the good, no matter how small. We find reasons for hope. Beyond a mindset, gratitude must translate into action. Writing thank you notes, helping neighbors, donating to charity — these deeds reinforce gratitude. When we share our gifts with others, it multiplies joy. A lifestyle of gratitude is generous and outward-focused.
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As we model gratitude, those around us catch the spirit. Our gratitude creates ripples, inspiring loved ones to see blessings, too. Even strangers sense our joy and light. Gratitude is contagious.
Gratitude connects us to something larger than ourselves. It is an antidote to entitlement, pride and selfishness. Gratitude reminds us that all good things are gifts we cannot earn or create alone. It grounds us in humility.
Practicing gratitude daily trains our brain to focus on the positive. Over time, we become less prone to anxiety and depression. Choosing grateful thoughts over resentful ones makes relationships, work and everyday stresses more enjoyable. We stop taking the good things for granted.
Beyond a mindset, gratitude must become an action. Keeping a gratitude journal where we record a few things we’re thankful for each day etches gratitude deeper. Speaking our thanks aloud to others reinforces the habit. When gratitude permeates our mind, words and deeds, its transformative power grows.
Living out our life’s passion and purpose gratefully brings us joy, but even more, it is an act of faith. It reminds us we are not alone and that a loving God is looking out for us. Gratitude acknowledges all we’ve been given, every breath, every meal, every embrace. An attitude of gratitude keeps us mindful of the blessings that surround us. And when we appreciate those blessings, it is easier to go out and be a blessing to others.
There is always something to be grateful for if we intentionally look for it. Gratitude shifts our focus from lack to abundance. It allows us to approach each day with optimism and hope. We become a force of light in a world that needs more joy.
This Thanksgiving, take time to reflect on reasons to be grateful. But even more importantly, commit to making gratitude a daily habit. Let it color your perspective, words and actions. Gratitude’s benefits compound when nurtured consistently. It can guide us to greater joy and purpose every day of the year.
How about you — are you living with an attitude of gratitude? Do you live and work with an abundance mentality or scarcity mindset? Does your gratitude live beyond this week of Thanksgiving? I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org and when we realize the foundation of our life’s passion and purpose are supported by the building blocks of gratitude and appreciation, it really will be a better than good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager, and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.