Meet our writers

 







Reflections November 2014

Life Now

Thanksgiving Blessings

By Dusty Reed

Offering gratitude can happen every day throughout the year. It is easy to get caught up in the daily challenges of life and not always see things to be grateful for but it is always healthy to stay aware and take the time to find the goodness.

Recalling many things to be thankful for surrounds the season of Thanksgiving. It becomes a holiday filled with turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie and maybe a blessing before the meal. For many, it offers a joyful time of families gathering together. It’s easy to be grateful for the surrounding situation and this is good. However, with the world situation, it is sometimes easier to complain and see faults rather than looking at and offering gratitude for the goodness.

Offering gratitude can happen every day throughout the year. It is easy to get caught up in the daily challenges of life and not always see things to be grateful for but it is always healthy to stay aware and take the time to find the goodness.

A friend recently said that she had been seeing a ripple effect concerning war, and how it affected innocent countries, as well. She found a turn‑around in her thinking and felt healing within herself when she realized she could send out ripples of positive features to even those who opposed her view.

Often, when the favorable is acknowledged, even in an adverse situation, the goodness shines through. Another way of imaging the preferred desire is to flip the coin from complaint to gratitude.

Gratitude can be:

  • Thankful for household items that no longer work, for the hands that made them and offered employment rather than complaining because the items are broken.
  • Thankful for the cleansing when it rains.
  • Thankful for the education system, for the ability for children as well as adults to have access to knowledge greater than what has been available in the past.
  • Thankful for the kindheartedness that brings people together during and after a catastrophe.
  • Thankful for the healthy happenings in other countries such as Africa or Iraq. Listening to soldiers who have been there, we learn of many good things happening.
  • Thankful for the closeness of a friend, especially when there is a dissimilarity of viewpoints, knowing this as growth and that it is okay to disagree.
  • Thankful for email, which allows those who are away from their families and friends to stay connected, rather than taking this technology for granted.
  • Thankful for the opportunity to have loved or known someone who has passed on.
  • Thankful, even when the grocery store is crowded, for the ability to buy food.
  • Thankful for good health, rather than complaining about a headache.
  • Thankful to be able to smile, rather than feeling doubt and despair.
  • Thankful for freedom to attend church of one's choice rather than living in fear, harassment, torture or death as in many areas of the world.

Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, tells that "gratitude is the substance of a heart ready to show appreciation, or thankfulness; it is not simply an emotion, which involves a pleasant feeling that can occur when we receive a favor or benefit from another person but rather the combination of a state of being and an emotion; often accompanied by a desire to thank them, or to reciprocate for a favor they have done for you."

Gratitude is deeper than an emotion. Emotions come and go. Gratitude can be a state of being. As it is practiced, it becomes a part of one's being and expresses itself in a natural way.

A psychological research article in Social Behavior and Application by Philip C. Watkins, reports a gratitude exercise which showed that participants increase their experiences of positive emotion immediately after the exercise, and this effect was strongest for participants who were asked to think about a person for whom they were grateful. Participants who had grateful personalities to begin with showed the greatest benefit.

One such personal exercise might be to make a list of all the people you would like to thank, leaving space after their names. Write a brief note by each name stating something that constitutes saying "thank you." Then, when in conversation with or writing to that person, the subject can be brought into conversation with a sincere feeling of gratitude.

Offering a smile with a word of gratitude to family and friends daily can bring a warm feeling to both the giver and the given. It is a good exercise to practice. Something I read recently offers a way to apply this: "Don't remember the kindness you do for another, but never forget kindness done for you."

The joy in offering gratitude can spread to others, near or far, as ripples on the water reaching distant shores.

 

Meet Dusty