When I have the privilege of traveling in Mexico, I’m always struck by the happiness of the people. People everywhere are laughing, smiling, enjoying life. Most of them don’t possess much by US standards. It’s not what we possess that brings happiness, it’s how we appreciate what we have — whether it’s much or little. The amount of appreciation we express is directly tied to the amount of joy we experience.
If gratitude is the secret sauce of happiness, then consumerism robs our very souls of happiness. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the thought process of “never enough.” This insanity of ingratitude often resembles addiction. We are driven to get the latest gadget, the most updated wardrobe, a few more of . . . just in case it brings us happiness. That’s why gratitude is so important. It serves as an immunization against this addiction we can so easily fall into.
Start a new gratitude practice this November and keep it going throughout the year. Here are a few ideas:
Make a list of the things you are grateful for, be specific, add to it daily. Work toward 1,000 things or 10,000. When we are grateful for things we experience every day — curiosity, communication, creativity — this ushers in an attitude adjustment.
Set aside a time during the day where you will stop and be intentional about appreciating your life at the present moment — all of it, even the tough stuff. In every single moment, we have an opportunity to find something awe-inspiring.
Consider using a blueprint to walk you through gratitude. Start with your body, be grateful for your toes and work your way through your body from there. Next move to things outdoors, then people, add institutions. Creating some kind of pattern to follow, can help you get started.
Neuroscience tells us we are creating pathways in our brain, much like ruts in a dirt road, that become deeper and deeper, and therefore, more difficult to pull out of. Why build a road to a place you don’t want to go, like negativity, despair, complaints. To get the place we want to go requires appreciation.
Here’s to Thanksgiving every day!