This month, most of us will be spending time planning and preparing for Thanksgiving and thinking about all the things we are grateful for. If there was ever a time to recognize the power of gratitude and the affect it has on our personal and collective wellbeing, it is now.
In a world that is continually emphasizing where we are out of balance, I find comfort looking to the seasonal elements for guidance. We are in the season of the element of metal. On an emotional level, metal moves us from grief to inspiration. The quickest path to get to inspiration is through gratitude.
It can be difficult to imagine you could feel inspired during a time of so much grief. Like all of you, I have been stunned and utterly speechless at the news headlines recently. One of the people on my leadership team has a sister is in Israel, just outside of Tel Aviv. I wrote her a note to let her know I was thinking about her and was praying for their safety. I explained to her that I felt helpless as to what I could do for her – what do you do for somebody that far away?
I got my answer when I went to visit a friend who is facing a very serious health condition. As we were talking, I told her that I desperately wanted to do something to help her but I didn’t know what I could do to make things better. She said, “You’re doing exactly what I need you to do. Just love me, think about me, care about me… that is what I need right now.”
I was so moved by her words. The gratitude she felt and expressed to me for coming to be with her warmed my heart and illustrated to me the reciprocal power that gratitude has on us. Not only is it a positive lens through which to see the world, but an important practice as it fosters a true sense of unity and belonging.
Sometimes I think I have to do something extraordinary to make a difference, like land a plane and bring supplies overseas to those in need, but that’s not realistic. What I can do is commit to being the highest version of myself so that I can bring the best of what I have to the world.
That could look like writing an email to my friend’s sister who is probably feeling isolated and sad, bringing a dinner to my friend who is not well and take the time to be with her, or a simple random act of kindness by buying coffee for the person behind me in line at Starbucks.
It’s easy to fall into the thinking that says, “There is nothing I can do, I have no say or authority in this situation.” However, that just creates feeling grief and helplessness. If we could move out of that thinking and move to a more inspirational thought process that includes gratitude and say to ourselves, “I can do better, I do care and I am thinking about you”, we would be sending out a different message to our world and things would shift.
This thanksgiving, be grateful not only for what you have, but for where you are, who you are with and how you are being present.