Gratitude is both a primary, spontaneous outpouring of the heart in response to acts of kindness, favor, and forgiveness, and a disposition or virtue to be cultivated, corrected, and developed over time.*The definition goes further to state that a cultivated sense of gratitude is incompatible with a life of greed and exploitation commonly found in patterns of racial, sexual, and economic injustice. Gratitude is powerful.
The last year and a month have been a very complex time for me and for my family, filled with both wonderful joys and terrible sorrows. A robust and developed sense of gratitude for all that has gone well has helped carry us through. I won't bore you with any details as we all have our own triumphs and tragedies.
This year for Thanksgiving, I suggest starting to develop and strengthen your sense of gratitude for the year ahead. Start on Thanksgiving day by making a point of telling those you love, whoever they may be, that you do indeed love them. I know this doesn't come naturally for a lot of us, but give it a try. Better to tell someone you love them now than regret you never got the job done when they're gone ... and they can go with a terrible suddenness.
Next start a gratitude log ... a journal of all that has gone right in the day that you took note of during the journey. It is a wonderful discipline as it helps you development an eye for the many good things that do happen to you during each day ... and of the people who made that sense of "outpouring of the heart" sometime in that day. Keep the journal handy for the dark times when nothing seems to be going right, when tragedy strikes, or when the terrors of disease and injury strike. Being able to fall back on such a journal and be reminded of better days may be the life preserver you need to get through your current storm, whatever that may be.
There is a lot more you could do, but we'll explore that later if you like.
Safe travels. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
If you're reading this overseas, apply this to any day you like. There is no bad time to tell the loved ones in your life that you appreciate them and there is no bad time to start a gratitude log.
For another post that will help you out by allowing you to create a reservoir of humor you may tap when times get tough, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/10/using-humor-to-create-reserve-of-joy.html
* If you wish to pursue this further, the quote was taken from the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, p. 471