An Attitude Of Gratitude

This Christmas, after many many years of presents, our family has finally decided to forgo the ritual of gift giving. It’s a big deal to wake up on Christmas morning and not give a gift, but also not to receive one. But it’s a choice that has meant this holiday season has become about gratitude instead of plenitude. This choice has created a great deal of space in our lives as we prepare for Christmas day and the days following with family and friends. Instead of struggling for parking, stewing of the ill health of our bank balance, worrying about ‘who we have missed’ and concerning ourselves with the trends of wrapping this year- I am firmly rooted in the joy that is ‘spending time’ this year.

So I thought it was the perfect time to discuss this concept of gratitude as an attitude. Feeling grateful is for many of us a fleeting emotion that arrives in the dizzy haze of the holiday season and passes soon after when we realise the credit card balance and looming date of returning to work. We often feel fortunate or lucky when we ‘treat’ ourselves to something special or are able to treat those we love to something new. But can we find a sense of gratitude that underpins our actions not only over the summer holidays but also permeates into our lives on a more regular basis. By this I mean living from a place of readiness to show appreciation and kindness.

The first facet of gratitude to consider is the act of inward reflection. This reflection is required to generate gratefulness. Remind yourself of all of the wonderful people in your life- friends, family and colleagues. Recall the experiences you have had (pleasant or unpleasant) over the past year and what you have learnt from them. Reconnect with the things that bring meaning to your life. And if all else fails remind yourself of what it feels like to be able to live, breath and move on this planet. Once we can identify these feelings within ourselves we can experience the unbounded joy that simply being grateful can bring and we can then begin to share that with others.

I like to think of being ‘grateful’ as a thought or feeling, but ‘gratitude’ as the action that follows. Gratitude is the extension of gratefulness. It is an attitude, that radiates from us to be felt by someone else. How often do we take time to not just think about being grateful but to actually attach an action to that thought and express ourselves clearly so that gratefulness can be experienced by the intended recipient?

Of course we all express ourselves differently, but at the core of this expression is sharing kindness. Kindness can only be felt through connection. Connection requires real and intentional engagement not just with ourselves but with those around us. We can look to replace connection with monetary exchange but ultimately what expresses our gratitude is a heartfelt warmth that cannot be wrapped, embellished and placed under a tree. The ‘stuff’ we end up giving to signal our thoughts of gratefulness are received as a token gesture because the ‘real connection ( the real gift) doesn’t come pre-packed.

So this holiday season let’s unwrap ourselves and give our gratefulness freely through the attitude we cultivate, the connections we create and the time we spend with one another.

Yours with gratitude,

Leave a Reply