gratitude-a-thon day 2088: extending the gratitude

We here at the gratitude-a-thon (meaning ME here at the gratitude-a-ton) are pondering Thanksgiving, that time of year when everybody prays to the altar we live at on the daily–gratitude. The the lists that will be thrown around the tables tomorrow, ranging in size, depth, and magnitude, are music to our ears (meaning MY ears). But once the turkey disappears, why do we throw the gratitude out with the leftovers? Here’s my list of why you should make your Thanksgiving gratitude last all year:

  1. Gratitude is cheap. Oh wait, it’s actually free! How many things in life that are worthwhile are actually 0 cents?
  2. Gratitude can improve your health. It improves your immune system, lowers your blood pressure and makes your aches and pains feel less achey and pain-y.
  3. Gratitude makes us feel less isolated. It makes us feel more outgoing and compassionate. And if that were on the racks at Bloomingdales, tell me you wouldn’t fill your cart? (They don’t have carts at Bloomingdales, but you know what I mean).
  4. Gratitude makes us feel more positive and optimistic. And I’m sorry, but in this cuckoo clock world, you gonna shun that?
  5. Gratitude puts us in the moment, instead of loitering in yesterday and tomorrow. It allows us to feel the joy in what we have and not do that nasty take-the-good-stuff-for-granted thing.
  6. Gratitude can help you deal with the green monster, no not Fenway Park’s green monster, we’re talking jealousy. It’s hard to feel envy while you’re feeling gratitude.
  7. Gratitude makes you look at the whole of the good and where it came from. When you do this, you get a feeling of community and appreciation for those in your life who’ve helped you get whatever it is your grateful for. It takes a village, people.
  8. Gratitude can improve your resilience. When you’re always looking for the good in even the worst situation, you’re going to be able to have more positive emotions roam around your body and mind.
  9. Gratitude has been proven to lessen depression. Tell me that doesn’t improve your mood.
  10. Gratitude can help us stop being so controlling. If you’re on the gratitude hunt, you’re feeding yourself a diet of being thankful for what you have vs. what you want or think you need, or must get.

I could keep writing this list, but then I wouldn’t be able to make my New York Times macaroni and cheese recipe for the first time, which will go with the million other items we’ll be indulging in tomorrow, for which I am super grateful. See, see how I did that–that’s how easy it is to get your gratitude on. Just consider all that good you have hiding all over your life. In every corner, there are teeny weeny and mega things that you can bow down to. What are yours? Ask yourself tomorrow, and then ask yourself every day afterward. I’m not trying to be bossy, I’m just trying to give you a tried and true habit that can actually make your life better. But of course, what else do you think we’d feed you here at the gratitude-a-thon–the seven deadly sins?

Happy Thanksgiving, EVERYBODY! Hoping you’re with people you love and you have an overabundance of mashed potatoes.

gratitude-a-thon day 474: happiness lies in the littlest things (like the stuffing)

thankful

The thing we have that’s closest to a national gratitude day is here. The one day when it’s required to stuff yourself (and then keep eating), and think of something you’re thankful for, because your Aunt Edith won’t let anyone up from the table until everybody has thought of at least one thing they’re grateful for, dammit.

Ah, family.

I’m always droning on about this practice of gratitude, because quite frankly I think it’s the key to happiness. Doesn’t that sound so, well CHEESEY, so BAD HALLMARK CARD-Y? Of course it does. That’s why it’s hard to talk about this subject in a real way without turning people off because they think they’re listening to some sort of sermon, and who has time to listen to a sermon filled with cliches?  But the true identity of gratitude is much quieter. And simpler. It’s not flashy, or cliche. It’s as real as it gets. Because it’s all about noticing real things. It’s easy to dismiss the teeny tiny stuff that makes our lives better, and which not everybody has. Why, just since I woke up, here’s what I could focus on that could set the tone for the rest of my day:

1. My bed is absurdly comfortable. Like I-could-stay-in-it-forever comfortable.

2. My dog is at the bottom of the bed in his little bed, which is probably not as comfortable as mine, and I love him  like I gave birth to him (and still think it’s possible I might have).

3. The guy sleeping next to me has been there for 27 years (not always in such a comfortable bed) and works with me (at varying levels of success) everyday to create a happy life.

4. My toilet flushes. I could be peeing in a hole, outside. And c’mon, you gotta be grateful not to have to clean up your own poop.

5. I have internet service. It connects me to the whole freaking world!

I will stop now, lest you think I am just over the top (but jeez, what would you expect here at the gratitude-a-thon). I don’t want to be that. But I am like everyone else, in that when you find something you think is five stars, you want to share it with others.

There’s all sorts of gratitude challenges and books and messages out there. Maybe you think it’s all crap. But it’s not. Really. It’s not. All I’m going to say, is think about it. I swear it’s as good as that turkey, those buttery mashed potatoes, and the fantasy of telling Aunt Edith to just shut the hell up.

Happy Thanksgiving. xoxoxo