The days of Thanksgiving week are as good a time as any to reflect on gratitude. Wikipedia begins its introduction like this:
Gratitude, thankfulness, or gratefulness is from the Latin word gratus, which means “pleasing” or “thankful.”Is regarded as a feeling of appreciation (or similar positive response) by a recipient of another’s kindness.
Gratitude is perspective and surely so is kindness and perhaps another. In that spirit then, here are a few paragraphs on how I have thought about gratitude this year.
This is about the things that hide in plain sight, the obligations and the struggles. Maybe not the most intuitive to start.
The things you have in your life have value and importance. They often become invisible to you, but not noticing them does not change their significance much. Often losing a thing serves as an effective (though perhaps painful) reminder of its importance.
Here are some of a few examples that I remember from the last twelve months:
- This summer and fall I got used to checking the local air quality index, before heading out on runs or walks. Appreciate clean air to breathe.
- We experienced a long weekend at a cabin with a noticeable wasp infestation. Appreciate the absence of wasps in your home.
- Several bouts of covid and the flu in this household have reminded us of the things that we take for granted that suddenly became very difficult or impossible. Appreciate health and how it enables you.
Granted, there is comfort, perhaps privilege in not having to think about those types of things. The other side of that of course are blind spots – the things you do not think of, open you up to bias.
Appreciate what you have.
The things you have to do, they can feel like a chore. Heavy. Worse yet, perhaps they get in the way of things that you believe, you would rather do. Often they are really a side effect or a consequence of responsibility, of ownership. The things you own, will own you back. To own means to have to do the work.
You can always try some positive reframing to see, if it lightens your load.
- I have to finish that project. –> I get to finish that project.
- I have to take out the trash. –> I get to take out the trash.
- I have to go for a run. –> I get to go for a run.
It is simple change, but a different perspective. Perhaps easier to appreciate.
To struggle means to do things that are not easy for you, yet. You can choose it and sometimes it will find you, perhaps against your wants. Struggle is not necessarily growth, but it is a opportunity for that.
Struggle is to encounter friction.
Good or bad – it is hard to say. I think it is important to struggle well. Appreciate the struggle and look for the lessons in it. The reward is not just what you find on the other side of struggle, but also the experience of the struggle itself.
Friction means both challenge and possibility.
The lens of gratitude helps provide useful perspective. What do you see?