Yes, it's that time again, when giant turkeys and homemade pies threaten to keep us at the table far longer than our waistlines can endure. But every year endure they must because we know how to show our gratitude for a well cooked meal. We do, we do!
We gobble it up, ask for seconds, and then return for leftovers before we're finally ready to call it a day.
But what about the rest of your life? How well do you gobble up the gifts that are given to you? How well do you show your gratitude then?
Because no matter the challenges, there are still so many, many gifts that life bestows upon you. And not just once in awhile, here and there, but over and over again. When we allow it.
How Well Do You Receive?
For instance, how well do you receive compliments? Not just hear the words. We mean really hear the other person's care when they comment on your sense of humor, your new haircut, your bold, visionary idea at work. Do you take it in? Let it fill your sense of self, perhaps even your heart and soul?
Or do you laugh in embarrassment and wave it off?
Perhaps you roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders and mumble, "Oh, it's nothing."
Or do you tell the person what it means to hear such high praise from someone you admire?
Maybe you take a minute to let it soak in while you hold the other's gaze, and then finally say a deeply meant "Thank you."
Without gratitude, you can never feel spiritually full. You can never accept and trust that life is joyous and rewarding.
Now, we're aware that life can deal out some pretty lousy blows, even betrayals and horrible losses. We've experienced them ourselves. But that's only part of the picture.
And that's the point.
Because if we get stuck in anger that Fran and Duke got the metaphorical drumsticks, and Amy and Jed got the wishbone, then we'll never be able to rejoice in the moist, succulent breast meat covered with Aunt Anna's divine gravy.
And while we may say grace before the Thanksgiving meal, the point of a life well lived is to live in grace as much as possible. And that can only happen when gratitude becomes you.
Living In Grace
What does it mean to live in grace?
Well, first you experience gratitude for what you have. And then you grow your appreciation for the gifts that come with your everyday life — even the challenges that help you grow.
Little by little, you start to notice how your gratitude becomes more common — a kind of everyday grace. It allows you to more fully experience and appreciate all that happens to you. And then, more and more, gratitude seeps into your identity. And that's how gratitude becomes you, who you really are.
All that's required is greater attention to what comes to you and blesses your life, no matter how large, no matter how small. With greater attention, you achieve more minutes, then hours, and finally days that are lived in a state of grace. And then you feel centered, relaxed, trusting, aware of the value in the moment, and energized by all the possibilities before you.
It just takes commitment to living a fuller life, a more enjoyable and enjoyed life. And, unless you came from an amazing family, we all have to practice this at first.
This year, we are experiencing enormous gratitude for something that started off with a terrible disappointment.
A Gift of Disappointment
When our current editor expressed interest in our proposal to write a wedding book, the editor wanted an entirely different book than what we had in mind. Now, we cared passionately about trying to help bring down the divorce rate (and the accompanying heartache and family distress). And one of the areas of influence that hadn't been examined was the wedding process. That's why
our original title was "The Wedding, Will Your Marriage Survive It?"
We had wanted to write a social commentary and critique that would examine how many current wedding traditions are actually dangerous to the marriage that's being created. Instead, we were asked to write an all-positive guide for the contemporary couple.
Well, that was a total shock. Nothing, absolutely nothing like we had in mind. So, at first we grumbled and groused, moaned and fretted. And then we remembered.
Once we stepped back into gratitude and rewrote an entire chapter to demonstrate that we could deliver what they wanted, we could then see that we had, indeed been graced by this intervention, even though at first it felt like a black cloud over our parade.
The new title?
The Smart Couple's Guide to the Wedding of Your Dreams — with the sub-title — Planning Together for Less Stress and More Joy. It is the only book written for both the bride and the groom, no matter their age, no matter how many times they may have been married. It reveals a new look at how couples can participate in shaping their weddings — from the engagement through their honeymoon — so that the entire process supports them in creating a successful,
passionate, and joyous marriage all along the way.
And it turned out that the entire process of writing this book was a blessing that could never, ever have been imagined. Brides, grooms, and many couples from all over the country — most of whom we'd never even met — submitted stories about how they'd made their weddings and the journey leading up to it incredibly romantic, meaningful, and memorable. Some made us laugh, and many were so tender and sweet that they brought us to tears.
And the gratitude. We are eternally grateful to our editor who gave us the new direction and to our contributors who continue to fill our hearts with joy and admiration.
Yet, you may feel gratitude only when the world conforms to your ideas of what should be happening. But what kind of gratitude is that? Pretty simple. Pretty easy. But when you stretch yourself to want more from life, to expand your capacity for spiritual satisfaction and meaning, then gratitude can be found in any of the lessons that this life has to offer.
So this month, and any month, make it a practice to see the opportunity in the crisis, the blessing in the disappointment, and the joy when it goes just like you want it to. That way gratitude will, indeed, become you.
About the author: If you’re ready to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of your relationships, Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski provide their complimentary tips at: http://www.makingtheordinaryextraordinary.com