You Don’t Have Thanks, You Give It

At a time when many people have seen better times, it's easy to look at a day called “Thanksgiving” and scoff: What do I have to be thankful for? Well, a lot, actually.

Girl at window
Photo credit: martinak15 (Creative Commons)

For years, I misunderstood gratitude. I thought it was about feeling grateful for the gifts around me. But when I didn't feel I had anything to be grateful for, I wondered what was wrong with me.

But now, I get it. You can't have thanks; you can only give it. (Feel free to tweet that.)

Gratitude is a discipline

The more you practice feeling grateful, the more grateful you become. Gratitude is a muscle that you strengthen through daily use — an exercise, not an emotion. It's not something you feel, but rather something you do. And as with most things, the people who are best at it are the ones who do it even when they're tired and worn out and don't much feel like it.

So what does this mean for you?

I can't tell you what to be thankful for. Only you know that. But I'm confident you have the same opportunity we all have today– to give thanks or not. To choose to see a few gifts hidden in that life of yours or miss the opportunity. To use your gratitude muscle or let it lie dormant.

If you do decide to give thanks, you might surprise yourself. You may find, as others have, that the more you utter the words thank you, the more gratitude pours out.

Sometimes, the right attitude doesn't come until you show up.

Go be grateful

If you're up for a little challenge, do something different today. When most people are looking for someone to blame for their current state of affairs, don't sit around waiting for gratitude to come.

Instead, give thanks.

Without prompting or pushing, find something to be thankful for. Speak it, and believe it, then watch that gratitude muscle grow. And if you need a little prompting, check out my “10 Reasons to Be Thankful” post.

What do you have to be grateful for? Share in the comments.