Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. —Voltaire
As we head into Thanksgiving, we are reminded that when we are thankful, we engage in a sacred practice. Gratitude enlivens our spirits, helps us see from a wider perspective, opens our hearts and fills us with awe and wonder. We are more appreciative of what we do have instead of giving our attention to what we don’t have.
Most of us are aware of commonly suggested practices we can use to up-level our thanksgiving. Keeping a gratitude journal, regularly expressing thankfulness and practicing seeing the good in our lives and in our world—these are all great habits to develop.
There are additional strategies we can use to strengthen that gratitude muscle even more. (Most of them are common sense, but common sense does not always translate into common practice.) Use these practices to develop higher levels of gratitude and welcome the energy of appreciation and positivity in your life:
Be aware of your complaints. We can’t have an "attitude of gratitude" and complain simultaneously. So we want to be conscious of the number of times we complain and what we are complaining about. Complaining causes the leakage of positive energy and weakens our gratitude muscle. A helpful practice to overcome the inclination to complain is to challenge yourself to stop complaining about anything for 21 days. A transformation will take place. (Note: be aware of that 20th day; it’s the danger zone.
Cross out gossip. Contrary to many folks’ beliefs, gossip is not a spiritual gift. Some individuals believe they are gifted when they get the “411” on others. But it’s not really a gift; it’s a blight on consciousness. Gossip can edge out those things that are truly meaningful. Our life can transform when we cross out gossip and add appreciation.
Read about great historical figures. We often weaken our gratitude muscle when we lose perspective. Learning about history and the people who were part of it helps us look beyond our own luxuries and grievances and see how much there is to appreciate. One of my favorite historical figures is Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 unjust years in a South African prison and, when released, expressed not an ounce of bitterness. He eventually became president of the country that imprisoned him.
Be of service. When we serve others, it benefits the server. When we help others who are less well off, we are uplifted. While this may not be the intent, there is something powerful about the positive energy of giving. Others get the copy, we keep the original.
Pay attention to seemingly small things. Our reverence for life increases when we take the time to notice and share with others the coincidences, small blessings and delightful moments of our day-to-day experiences.
Write love notes. A friend, who thought this was a crazy idea, wrote a letter of appreciation to someone he cared about. At the time he wasn’t doing well physically, emotionally or spiritually. But he said the moment he wrote a short note of gratitude and appreciation, he instantly felt better. Verifiable scientific studies have shown that the simple act of writing an appreciative note causes the writer to experience things from a more uplifted emotional place. People feel greater depths of gratitude when they write these love notes.
Try out one or more of these practices and you will develop a higher level of appreciation in your life. You will strengthen your gratitude muscle. As you do, you will live in thanksgiving each and every day.
Peace and Blessings,