By: Martin Grunburg
Gratitude is the Game-Changer!
Happy Thanksgiving week! Truth be told, this is my favorite of all the holidays. No gift-giving. No purchasing. Just presence — an awareness and appreciation for all that you have been given.
Now, if you’re thinking, “Well, good for you. I haven’t been given much,” or, “I don’t have anything to be thankful for,” or anything along those lines, please keep reading.
What I love about Thanksgiving is it’s a great reminder to exercise our capacity to take control of our thinking, to direct it toward the positive and hopeful. To fill ourselves (our lives) with gratitude for what is — in the present.
Here’s the thing: It’s easy to complain and, unfortunately, I probably do it all too often. It seems much easier to fixate on things that aren’t “right,” injustices, or situations that should have worked out differently. It seems there will never really be a shortage of problems for us to address. (Problem-solving article.)
Anyone can complain, and most people do.
The scary thing is this pattern of thinking can and will quickly become a habit if it goes unchecked. Perhaps that is why it becomes easier and easier to think this way: We fall into the habit of complaining.
I’ve seen this happen to so many good people with so many talents and gifts; they are healthy, beautiful, have a great family and many friends — yet they manage to habitually complain.
The Physics of Gratitude
What happens if I shine a flashlight into a dark room? Which do you think “wins”? Light or darkness? Now ask yourself, “Is gratitude represented by light or is it more closely associated with darkness?”
Mindfulness is simply the art of being aware of our thoughts. It’s the ability to recognize that you hold the flashlight — that you and only YOU have the innate capacity to guide your thinking, at will. But that power can be used only when you become aware of it.
MLK understood this when he said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
One of my favorite books is James Allen’s “As a Man Thinketh.” It’s a masterpiece about how to become the captain of your own ship and the benefits and responsibility of taking the ship’s wheel — your mind — and directing it toward your goals and ideals. BTW: If you are not familiar with this great little book and you’d like a free copy, click here!.
Something to be thankful for…
Here’s the “crazy” thing: The power of awareness that you and I share — this consciousness of thought — is, in essence, our first human gift! Now this is something to be thankful for: The ability to choose your thoughts!
How many creatures have that unique ability?
William James shared this little nugget over a century ago:
The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.” ~William James
Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way:
“You become what you think about all day long.”
Now, for this awareness to be effective and put into practice there are two commandments: First, guard your mind — trap and eliminate those thoughts that do not serve you or your intentions. Second, redirect your thinking toward the light — toward your goals and ideals!
“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” ~Buddha (Emphasis on unguarded)
Questions to ask yourself in the moment…
Is this thought uplifting and empowering?
Is this thought guiding me toward my ideal future?
What thoughts will help me get there?
It’s worth remembering that positive thinking isn’t just some magical panacea — it is NOT going to SOLVE your problems. However, it IS going to help you solve your problems better.
It used to be hard for me to understand just how my attitude at one moment in time might influence the next. However, these days, I’ll just reiterate a great Clement Stone saying: “Big doors swing on little hinges.”
That’s it for now! Happy Thanksgiving — take control of that ship and direct it toward gratitude! And, yes, I am grateful for YOU! Thank you! Enjoy a safe holiday with family and friends!