In Canada, October brings wafting smells of pumpkin spice, turkey and other traditions of Thanksgiving. But what is Thanksgiving truly about? Family gatherings? Big meals?
Thanksgiving is an opportunity to celebrate the harvest and other blessings from the previous year. Hum…
I’d like to flip the opportunity to be thankful to become a daily practice of gratitude. You might be asking, “What is gratitude? And how is it different than thanksgiving?” Good questions.
According to dictionary.com, thanksgiving means “the act of giving thanks; an expression of gratitude, especially to God.” Okay, so thanksgiving and gratitude are synonyms for the same expression of appreciation then.
Have you ever thought of gratitude as a super power? Probably not. I hadn’t either until I was doing some meditations from “7 Days of Gratitude” from Calm.  In fact, gratitude can unlock happiness, enhance your optimism, and strengthen your immunity. Wow! Just from being grateful! When I thought about gratitude in that perspective, I knew I needed to explore gratitude further and figure out how I could incorporate it into my daily life.
Some days I get caught up in what I didn’t get done, what I don’t have or what I wished I could do. But this type of thinking leaves me wanting and usually not in a healthy mindset. How much better would it be to focus on what I do have and appreciating that instead of focusing on what I lack. In the Calm blog post, “The simple key to unlock happiness,”the writer suggests that gratitude is “really the ultimate antidote to unhappiness because when we’re experiencing wonder, thankfulness and appreciation, it’s almost impossible to feel bleak.” 
I don’t know about you, but I certainly want a piece of that “feel good” joy and strengthening my immune system sure wouldn’t hurt either.
Gratitude is a habit that needs to be practiced. And like any habit, the more you do it the easier it becomes.
My first step to putting gratitude into practice was to purchase a little journal called The Five-Minute Journal. This journal allows me to focus on what is good in my life, and to live with intention. One of morning journaling prompts is “I am grateful for…” and it has space for three things. At first, I noticed I listed material things and relationships. Now, I am branching out and becoming thankful for how my body can heal itself with the right foods and attitude practices to how my breath floods my body with new air to circulate to how blessed I am to live where I do.
- ears to hear the trickle of raindrops, the strains of music and my loved one’s voice
- eyes to see the dancing Northern Lights, to witness the colours changing with the seasons and the beautiful Rocky Mountains
- tastebuds to taste sweet, salty or sour, to enjoy new flavours, and to delight in foods that feed my body
My next steps are to find other ways to express gratitude like to practice acts of random kindness, offer words of encouragement, write notes of appreciation and so many more ideas. I am trying to write at least one appreciation note a week either as an actual note/letter or email or text. Some other ideas that I’ve come across include
- gratitude object – use a stone or other object that you can place in your pocket; whenever you touch it, bring to mind something that you’re grateful for
- gratitude journal – write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for daily
- gratitude sign – notice a sign like an airplane overhead, a child’s laugh or a red stop light to cause you to pause and contemplate gratitude for either a person, place or thing
“People who practice gratitude consistently feel more generous, compassionate, and connected to others.”  Gratitude allows you to set aside the negativity and darkness that tries to crowd out the light and goodness that nourishes my soul. Gratitude has the power to bring into the present moment rather than flitting to the past or future, neither of which can be changed right at this very moment. For me, gratitude has infused me with a sense of contentment and compassion — qualities well worth cultivating.
I know you’re probably ready to spring on me that life is more than happy thoughts and smelling flowers. You’re right, life can throw wrenches, pains and challenges in its wake. When you’re faced with hardships, finding an attitude of gratitude is difficult to muster up. But gratitude during challenging times, helps you to grow patience through the pain, resilience though loss, and compassion through calamity. Patience, resilience and compassion are admirable qualities that all of us can benefit from. It isn’t always easy to discover the gifts within misfortune, but with patience and practise those hidden blessings can shine brightly and bless you and others. Another way to look at it is that opportunities come out of adversity — when one door closes, a window often opens.
It is your turn to develop an attitude of gratitude and see light in life’s darkness.
Are you needing coaching and support to create a habit of gratitude and renewed mindset of thankfulness? Look no further. Send Brenda an email to set up your free Discovery Chat to develop a plan for a vibrant and vital life that you want to live every single day.
 “Thanksgiving,” https://www.dictionary.com/browse/thanksgiving?s=t
 “The simple key to unlock happiness,” Calm Blog, 2016 Aug 16 https://blog.calm.com/relax/the-simple-key-to-unlock-happiness
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