As the name denotes, Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to the focus of being thankful. This time of year gives us that warm, fuzzy feeling. We have a few days where we feel generally thankful for the wonderful things our lives include. Sounds great, right?
I'm gonna call bull on this one.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the work "thankful" as "pleased and relieved." Both of those things are great feelings. I can't think of anyone who doesn't want to feel pleased and relieved. But that's just it; they're feelings.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the work "grateful" as "showing an appreciation of kindness." This where the difference lies; being thankful is a feeling. Being grateful is an action.
It's easy for us to look around the Thanksgiving dinner table and say that we are thankful. We're surrounded by family, friends, and food. In that time, we're currently experiencing that fuzzy feeling that comes with a holiday gathering. We wait for that one time a year in which we can focus on that thankful feeling. But where is the practice of that thankfulness? Where do we draw the line between a shallow feeling and an intentional way of life?
Gratitude is when we dwell on more than just the feeling of thankfulness. Thankfulness is the first step. We have to have that initial feeling to build upon, and we build upon it by redirecting our focus onto making gratefulness a steady part of our lives, 365 days a year.
But our lives are busy. They distract us from remembering the important things. We get so caught up in our school work, our day jobs, our relationship issues, our bills, and our responsibilities that we forget to shift our perspective on a regular basis. I know that there aren't many of us who each day dwell on how blessed and lucky we are to have the lives that we do.
So how do we actually gain that perspective and keep it all year round?
The key is keeping gratitude at the forefront of our lives. It's not just thinking about how thankful we are to have what we do. It's about living out that gratitude through the simple things we do every day. When we gear our minds towards focusing on how privileged we are, it makes it easier for us to want to bless the other people in our lives. Gratitude is what prompts you to pay for a stranger's coffee; because you recognize your own financial blessings and see that you can help another person out, maybe redirecting the tone of their day. It's what prompts you to remind your loved ones how important they are to you. It's what encourages you at the end of a long, hard day, because you know that it's actually been a far better day than you've made it out to be.
Being thankful is awesome. Being grateful is even more awesome. Remind yourself of it every day in the upcoming year, and you'll find that the next Thanksgiving isn't all too different from every other day.