American’s, Time to give thanks: Gratitude, Grace and Perspective
Thanksgiving is almost here… what better time to do some reflection, find perspective and show gratitude. This year, in particular, America is in dire need of a little grace and gratitude as the election and polarization in our country has led to a good amount of anger, judgment and overall nastiness. We seem to have lost perspective on the big picture and common things that unite us. Instead, we are letting others create disillusion and spin. One thing we should all be grateful for, and respect is the fact that we, as American’s, ALL have say in what happens in our country. Our voices are heard and our messages are sent, agreed with by others or not. It is our freedom that enables us to express ourselves without censor and fear of repercussion. We all need to remember that, with freedom, comes responsibility. It is our responsibility to speak and be accountable for what we say and how we may affect others with our words. If we are to speak our truth or our opinion, we must allow others to do the same and listen, perhaps find common ground without censure or threat. This is where perspective and grace comes in. It is important for us all to reflect on what we want, who we want to be and the kind of place and people we want to be a part of. Instead of feeding the negativity, become part of the solution and part of the change you would like to see. We start to lead, by example and be the kind of person, do the kind of deeds, take the kind of action and show the kind of respect we desire to see in our wonderfully diverse nation. It all starts with the individual. As I say to my kids, what you put out there in the world is what you will get back.
So, what is gratitude? The definition is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. According to Robert Emmons, a researcher at University of California Berkley , gratitude has two key components. First, it is affirmation of what is good in the world, in life or in gifts and deeds. Second, it is recognizing that the source of the goodness is outside our self. This strengthens relationships and connection. In addition, showing gratitude is important to overall happiness and wellbeing. Researchers Dr. Emmons and Dr. Seligman from University of Pennsylvania found that gratitude helps people deal with adversity and feel more optimistic and positive about the future. People who expressed gratitude daily were happier and healthier than those who tended to express irritations and grievances. Maybe focusing on what we are grateful for and the positive things around us, as well as looking at the world around us, our “First World” problems vs. “Third World” problems, we can start to calm the tumultuous, negative and reactive rhetoric occurring in America during and since the election. It is time to unite, give thanks, say and have grace and move forward to enact change and peace. I will share some things I am grateful for and my perspective with the intention of rippling a shift in perception, kindness and grace- courteous good will towards fellow man.
I am grateful for:
- Freedom to live as I choose, say what I think, and be who I want to be.
- Friends and Family who love and accept me for who I am and help me be accountable for my words and deeds.
- Diversity in my life to constantly help me learn, grow and experience the world differently, thus enhancing my perspective and appreciation for life.
- Safety and security in my life, never having to worry about my safety or my children’s safety on a daily basis as police, military, law-makers and good Samaritans are watching out for me and all of us in the USA.
- Generosity of those who have who help out those who have not. Food drives, clothing drives, food banks, soup kitchen’s, toy drives and local families anonymously providing for those in need. People providing shelter to those in need… it is all good!
- Knowledge and opportunities to learn and grow through books, magazines, radio and school as well as through discussions with people who have different views and perspective.
- Teachers in my life who help me learn and grow as a person spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.
- Children who are mirrors reflecting back to me that which is mine and what I may need to work on. They bring life, laughter, play and perspective to my world.
- Nature and open spaces to walk in, picnic in, hike and camp in and bask in the beauty, air and peaceful stillness around.
- Food, shelter and clean drinking water to keep my family warm, nourished, hydrated and clean.
- Good Health. My family and myself are healthy and well and cancer free. (12 years for my husband and 7 years for my son).
- Unconditional love… knowing I will be loved and accepted even those times that I may not feel lovable or when I make mistakes. It helps me be resilient and take risks… It’s my safety net!
These are just a few of the big things that I am grateful for and that have helped me gain perspective on what is truly important to me in my life. I hope you find your own gratitude and perspective and that we can all find peace in our country. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!