Rather than pausing on Thanksgiving to give thanks on just one day of the year, how different would your life be if you practiced gratitude every day?
I remember a time, not too long ago, when I was in a very dark place in my life. As I struggled to find a way out of my misery, some friends of mine gave me a gift of gratitude beads.
Similar to Buddhist mala beads or Catholic rosary beads, gratitude beads are a string of 100 same-sized beads with one larger bead in the center attached to a tassel. You sit with the beads in your hand, starting with the bead to the right of the large bead, and move your fingers from one bead to the next. Rather than reciting a mantra or repeating a Hail Mary for each bead, as you slide forward along the strand you say one thing (silently to yourself) for which you are grateful. You keep going until you reach the big bead again. That’s when you know you’re finished.
The first time I sat to do this, I couldn’t think of 100 things. Isn’t that sad? I struggled to find 100 unique elements of my life that elicited gratitude.
So, I stepped back for a moment. I realized gratitude didn’t have to be for material possessions or measurable success. I could start with the most basic elements and build from there.
I began again.
I am grateful for air. I am grateful for sunlight. I am grateful for trees.
I did this every night before I went to bed.
I am grateful for my parents. I am grateful for my sister. I am grateful I have enough food to eat.
As time went on, I was able to add more personal things.
I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my job. I am grateful for hope.
Then, a funny thing happened. The more I practiced gratitude, the more things that I could be grateful for began to show up in my life. People, situations and opportunities arose to help me on my path, support me and show me the way clear to my new, happier life.
I eventually adopted an attitude of gratitude.
Even now, in the face of adversity, through gratitude I can look at a situation, no matter how challenging, and look for that one element that will teach me something, and be grateful.
For me, gratitude has opened up a whole new way of living in the world.
And so, as you hover over your turkey and mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving holiday, I challenge you to question whether giving thanks on just one day of the year is enough.
Can you be grateful today … and every day?
(If you’re interested in purchasing gratitude beads, they’re available for $20 from moc.cisumevoltsujnull@knarF . Heidi & Frank Smith, super nice people and good friends of mine, manufacture them. What’s Your Avocado? claims no business interest in gratitude beads.)