The Healing Power of Gratitude
Nov 29, 2021
We recently just celebrated Thanksgiving here in the United States. It’s a wonderful holiday - a day set aside to be thankful for all the many gifts, blessings, and breaths we’ve been given. To be honest, as a child, the only thing I liked about Thanksgiving was getting out of school for an extra two days and getting to watch Snoopy prepare a Thanksgiving meal for all of Charlie Brown’s friends. I didn’t really care for the Thanksgiving meals. I hated turkey, dressing/stuffing, green bean casseroles, and basically anything else that was served. That’s not entirely true, I did enjoy the marshmallows that were melted ontop of the “candied” yams.
To be really honest, I’m still almost in that same spot with traditional Thanksgiving food. BUT I’m a long ways from just being happy about the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. I’m in my upper to mid-forties now and I find my perspective shifts yearly, if not daily. And I’m thankful. For everything.
I’ve got two boys and I’m knocking on the door of being an empty nester. Now I’m thankful for every time I see them, on every day I see them. I’m thankful for my wife and her patience. And for her allowing me to be me as I crawl through the neighborhood. I’m thankful for our parents, our siblings, our friends - really I’m thankful for everything.
During the continuing saga of “The Covid Chronicles” I’ve learned that there are no guarantees and that there’s not really too much that is in my control, except for one thing - my response to the world. I choose to laugh, to smile, to be angry, to grit my teeth, to take things for granted, or to be grateful. I obviously don’t choose everything that happens around me, though I’ve heard that my subconscious may play a role in that. Regardless, consciously, I get to choose my approach to the world, to the day, to my kids, to my wife, and to my self.
So, right now, I choose gratitude. I can breathe freely. I can smile whenever I want to. I can laugh, even at myself if I want to. I can even lay down anger, if I want to. And I do. So I can. And for that, I am grateful. I’m grateful because regardless of what I have or what I don’t have, I get to decide on my approach to the world, EVEN when my reactions to the world have already happened before my conscious choice. Sometimes, no matter my intentions, I react. But that’s okay, because I’m human, and I can catch my reactions and change their course. I can still choose even if I choose late. I can let go of reactions I would rather not make, I can forgive myself for reacting instead of acting, I can apologize if my reactions are less than loving. And for that, I’m grateful.
I’m never stuck. If I can breathe, I can decide how wonderful the day is. I can smile in the face of frustration, I can laugh when I want to curse, and I can breathe when fears make me want to hold my breath. I’m not saying any of this is easy, but I know it’s my choice, my power, to exercise. And, I am grateful to have that choice.
Gratitude itself is good for you. It helps soothe your mind and it even helps your body move better. Being grateful tells your nervous system that you are safe. When your nervous system feels safe, you can think better, you can act more than react, you can focus, you listen, you can see, and you can move with more ease and freedom. Gratitude can even help heal a broken heart or a wounded body. How? Gratitude makes a merry heart and a merry heart does the body good, like a medicine.
Anyway, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you love turkey and all the works, I meant no offense. I am now grateful for turkey because at Thanksgiving it is usually surrounded by the people I love the most. Which is awesome because somehow love makes turkey taste better.
How about you? What are you grateful for? Have you ever made a list? Have you ever marinated on your list when the world seems to present itself contrary to how you think it should? Do you exercise your power of choice to be grateful in the face of life’s events?
Have you ever let gratitude soothe your heart and heal your wounds? It’s never too late and your never stuck. Freedom is only a thankful heart away.