I intended to post this days ago, but there were technical problems and regrettably, I did not know how to fix them. I hope that they are now.
“Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” ~Alice Walker
This is the season of Thanksgiving, and I intended to publish this post before Thanksgiving Day. Obviously, that did not happen. The hustle and bustle of preparing for the day and finally cooking a big meal, overwhelmed me. If it weren’t for my dear Mom, I am not sure what I would have done. Thank you Mom!!
During the holiday season, the words grateful and gratitude are bandied about by scores of us. The Oxford dictionary defines ‘gratitude’ as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” I think that many of us routinely practice the first part of the definition. It is commonplace for us to express gratitude for the many things in our lives by listing them regularly in our journals, notebooks or on our computers. In fact, studies have shown it therapeutic to do so.
Although I’ve always been aware of the things in my life for which I am grateful, it was the book “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” Sarah Ban Breathnach that gave a voice to those blessings that I’d routinely overlooked. The book gave me pause as it caused me to consider the seemingly insignificant little blessings that grace my life. As she noted, “[w]hen we do a mental and spiritual inventory of all that we have, we realize that we are very rich indeed.” It was this book that encouraged me to formalize my gratitude practice.
“Practicing gratitude involves being thankful for the little things, seeing all that happens in your life as a “miracle”, and always being aware of the abundance in your life. By redirecting the focus of your thoughts from what you don’t have to what you do have, powerful vibrations are sent out to the universe, increasing the things in your life for which you are thankful.” (Read more here.)
Those things for which we may experience gratitude can range from the feel of our bare foot on a cool floor on a hot day, and a relaxing, hot bubble bath with no time limitations or frantic knocks on the door, when it is cold outside and you are frazzled from the holidays. It could be for the hot water with which you make that first cup of tea or coffee every morning, the sound of that hot water as it flows into your mug, and even for the certainty of a meal on the table. Gratitudes come in all shapes and sizes, and while we treasure each, usually, there is nothing to do beyond noting it. Some, however, demand more.
The ‘more ‘ that I am speaking of is a simple thank you. That’s right, the words “thank you,” though seemingly innocuous, hold great appreciation, power and promise. The words ‘thank you’ can forgive the worse transgressions, as well as display appreciation for a kindness received. In fact, the words also apply to those things in our lives that are blessings in disguise, but at the time, we are unable to recognize that fact. As we write down the things for which we are grateful, we sometimes overlook the other part of the equation, that is, verbally expressing our gratitude or thanks. Failing to express some act of kindness is akin to being deeply in love and never expressing your feelings to your loved one.
At this time of thanksgiving, I want to verbally express my thanks for some of those things in my heart for which I am most grateful. As an initial matter, I have to say that there is no way that I can possibly express my deepest appreciation for all the people and things who deserve it. If I overlook you in this post, please know that I do not do so in my heart. Please forgive me in advance and know that my heart is filled with the kindnesses that you shower upon me and the gratitude that I feel. In many cases, there are real people to thank, but in some instances, my gratitude is to my God. With that said, I realize that many of us espouse different beliefs. Whether yours is the Source, Universe, Allah, Mother Earth, or others, I urge you to look to those to express the blessings in your heart.
- Recently, my father died. He abandoned me when I was five and our relationship never overcame that, so we were estranged. Still, I’d like to thank John for being my father. The reality is that without him, I would not exist or be the woman who i am today. I am beginning to accept that perhaps that is all that he was meant to contribute to my life.
- I thank my beautiful, wonderful Mom who, when left with three, later four children, did not despair. She set about to care for us on her own. She worked two to four jobs at a time to put food on the table, clothes on our backs, and to give us a proper education and the basic necessities.
- I thank my two sisters. Although we have a complicated relationship, having lost my little brother when in died in 1997, they are even more precious and important to me.
- I thank God for the gifts of my children and grandchildren who have enriched my life in countless ways. By having three children by 21 years of age, I have to admit that in many ways, we grew up together. Ours was a give and take relationship and I’ve learned many lessons about being a mother and a role model from them. They gave me the opportunity to give them unconditional love and those things that I felt that I lacked as a child. My grandchildren are so precious to me and they offer me incentive to make this world a better place, as well as a do-over for the inevitable mistakes that I made with their parents.
- I thank my incredible husband of 13 years. When we married, neither of us envisioned the twists and turns that life would bring. Like everyone else, there have been a litany of ups and downs, but through love, determination and mutual respect, we continue to conquer them — together.
- I thank my dear friends, both old and new. They offer me support, honesty, compassion, a shoulder to cry on and unconditional love. They remind me of who I am, during those times when I forget. There is nothing like picking up the phone and hearing the voice of a friend with whom I haven’t spoken in ages and the conversation picks up as though we’d spoken just yesterday. I also relish the close friendships that I have with my daughters. They are two of my BFF’s, and I thank them for being.
- I thank all of those special people who routinely practice random acts of goodness and kindness. They bring serendipity and wonder to a world that, at times, is harsh and uncaring. They remind us of the true meaning of selflessness, love and kindness.
- I thank God for the breeze on a hot summer’s day, the melodic song of wind chimes as wind flows by, the smile from a stranger, the gift of forgiveness, those fleeting moments of perfection when everything is right with the world, the sweet music of a child’s laughter, nature in all its’ wonder and grandeur, a sunrise, a beautiful multi-hued sunset, the company of family and friends, calm in the midst of a storm, unexpected blessings, little miracles, the journey, love, hope, faith, joy, happiness, the strength to overcome the hard times, my life, the darkened nighttime sky with stars that sparkle like the finest diamonds, and so much more.
These are my prayers of gratitude and thank you. What are yours?
- <a href=”http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201311/how-the-habit-gratitude-leads-happiness” target=”_blank”>How the Habit of Gratitude Leads to Happiness (psychologytoday.com)
1. For the kindness of strangers.
2. A cozy bed that shelters me from the cold.
3. The visit from my LA daughter and g’son.
4. Last night’s sleepover with my g’daughter
5. The blessing of a roof over our head, food on the table and the opportunity to help others.
What are you grateful for?