*Alright, maybe you can overdose on gratitude, but it would be difficult.
Gratitude creates a positive cycle of more gratitude. – Seth Godin
It’s not surprising that Seth Godin has something interesting to say on the topic of gratitude. It is that time of year when people’s thoughts turn to gratitude. It easy to overlook the many things in life for which we can be grateful. It is notable that Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of Thanksgiving in 1863 came in the midst of the most un-civil times in our nation. Lee Cooper at Slate writes:
With a national Thanksgiving, Lincoln created a secular sabbath, a day apart for the country to find gratitude and grace “in the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity.” In addition to giving us turkey trots and leftovers, Thanksgiving remains an annual reminder that quiet helps to clarify deeper purpose.
Thanksgiving comes once a year but we have the opportunity to practice gratitude every day. Oftentimes it is the little stuff in life that give us joy.* Claire Leaden writing at Forge notes:
After all, as much as people tend to focus on the big, exciting events of life, most of our actual time is spent in simple, everyday activities. Getting up, going to work, making dinner, connecting with loved ones, going to sleep. These daily tasks and chores that we tend to just “muddle through” are often where real life happens.
That is not to say that living a more grateful life is effortless. Although the modern world is in many ways a better place to live that it ever has in history, there is no shortage of opportunities to get distracted. Ramp Capital writes:
Part of the reason we struggle with focusing on gratitude—or anything for that matter— is because we are surrounded by hyper-stimulating content on a consistent basis. These constant stimulations give us quick dopamine hits where we experience brief moments of pleasure and happiness. This is mostly due to our over-reliance on social media platforms and entertainment.
This is, in part, a description of a prosperous life. A life in which we have choices. It is easy to confuse that with a grateful life. Having the ability to choose a life that works for you and your family is something to savor. Anthony Saffer at Principled Prosperity writes:
We don’t need to denounce the prosperity we enjoy — at whatever level — but rather we should be remembering where it comes from and be thankful. Contentment, fulfillment, and purpose are primary elements of real financial success and gratitude is the foundation. These are worthy pursuits.
Lawrence Yeo at More to That has a simple exercise that can help you when you may be feeling that life isn’t giving you a fair shake. He writes:
You stand atop it now, and you’re capable of accessing all the people you love and all the experiences that bring you joy. You’ve been given one life to live, and this amazing existence is the one you’ve been gifted.
On a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to lose sight of this truth. So whenever you’re feeling a bit thankless or disgruntled, imagine what it’d be like to lose everything, then reset yourself back to your present condition, back atop the beautiful mountain that is your life.
It’s not stuff that you would mourn if you had to start from scratch. It is your relationships with friends and family that would be a real loss. Maybe we have this gratitude thing a bit backwards. Maybe there is a difference between gratitude and gratefulness. One transient, one more persistent. Kristi Nelson notes:
Gratitude is something we experience as a happy response when something goes our way. But really, that can be a fleeting transaction. When you are grateful, you embody gratitude. And when you choose to live in a state of being grateful, you become more cognizant, you celebrate what you have and not what you lack.
Don’t let Thanksgiving be the one day of the year in which you pause to note the many blessings in your life. Life is messy. Nobody else’s life is perfect. Everyone struggles. A grateful life is possible every day of the year. There will be days when gratitude seems like a stretch. That’s okay. Be grateful you have another chance tomorrow.
*Here are some more tips on how to make gratitude a regular, everyday practice.