The Gift of Gratitude

Nan journal Today is Thanksgiving, a day dedicated to thoughtfully reflecting on our many blessings.  It seems too short, only having one day to acknowledge all the wonders of life we enjoy.  With the start of the Christmas season just around the bend, I would suggest that the best gift we could give ourselves is the gift of gratitude.

Many times we think of gratitude as a way of showing appreciation to others for the kindnesses they show us.  This is certainly right and true, but the gratitude I’m talking about is our personal recognition of ordinary joys that make our lives worth living.

Right now, I am participating in an e-course by Dr. Brene Brown called “The Gifts of Imperfection,” based on her bestselling book.  Dr. Brown gained notoriety through her talks on TED.com where she spoke about topics that no one else wanted to address:  shame, vulnerability, and what it means to live wholeheartedly and authentically.

As part of our coursework, we have created a journal, and this past week, our assignment was to create a collage of photos or drawings that remind us of our ordinary joys, the very normal moments of our day that we would miss if we didn’t have them.  The premise is that by paying attention to the simple aspects of daily living that bring us joy, we cultivate an attitude of gratitude.  You can see from my collage above that my simple joys range from seeing my husband come home from work to my favorite pussy willow lights to a hot cup of tea and watching my dogs sleep in the sun.

When Dr. Brown was conducting her research through interviewing people who had suffered a great loss (spouse, child, or some other trauma), what she found was that the memories that meant the most to them were those very ordinary moments. Further, as she questioned these people, she discovered that their greatest desire was that others recognize the wonder of those everyday moments and appreciate them.  It was through this that they felt their loss was honored.

In thinking about this coursework and interacting with my classmates online, I’ve made the observation that the practice of gratitude for blessings big or small gives us a broader perspective from which to view life.  As we move through difficult trials and loss, giving thanks for the moments of beauty and joy that we experience reminds us that while one area of our lives might stink at the moment, there is still beauty and joy and love, and that generates hope.  That is what makes life worth living.

The psalmist said, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever” (Ps. 136:1 NIV).  We sometimes view this as how we must give God his due, as if our giving thanks benefits God in some way.  In reality, the practice of gratitude is a gift that God has given us, enabling us to recognize the simple joys of life and providing a way to give us hope when times are tough.  Thanksgiving may only be one day, but I’ll bet you have your own list of ordinary moments of joy to remind you that God has given you one wild and precious life.

~by Nan Kuhlman

2 comments so far

  1. iamjean9Jeannine on

    LOVE. Wonderful post.


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