What Gratitude Means
To me, what gratitude means is a mindset focused one the good things in my life. That helps me see how many ways I am rich, regardless of circumstances.
Certainly it’s easy to dwell on dire warnings of a possible recession, the high price of gas and groceries, and the elevated cost of plane tickets. While these things can make you feel poor, what gratitude means is counting how many ways you are rich.
One early Thanksgiving morning a few years ago I went to a favorite place to sit outside and pray, meditate, and journal. My key take away?
I am very rich.
At the time, I had been laid off from my job and faced selling a house I loved because I need to save money. Yet I saw I was rich in family, friends, and connection to my roots and identity. When I read in USA Today that having a close buddy is like making an extra $100,000 a year I decided to feel rich because of the immense value of my friends and family.
Business leaders and entrepreneurs have a high risk of burnout because their achievement and dedication to success can create isolation. “It’s lonely at the top.” Placing a higher priority on relationships, and spending time with people you trust enough to reveal your fear, quirks, and faults is a great aid to burnout recovery. https://deborahrankinrd.com/burnout-everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know/
My father grew up with 51 siblings and first cousins, most of whom lived within twenty miles of the family compound in central Kentucky. My mother had a tight circle of friends she called “The Big Five”–pals she met in first grade and stayed in touch with for seven decades.
Today, with smaller families, the average child has only four cousins. Many people move from state to state. We drive long commutes, spend hours in front of a screen, or on conference calls for remote home-based work. As a result, we are lonely. A Duke University study found one-quarter of those surveyed did not have a single person they could confide in.
Why Gratitude Is Important
To me, one of the reasons why gratitude is important is that it helps me place higher priority on simple joys and connections.
When it comes to friends and family, strong ties have been found to improve both finances and health. Ted Fishman wrote in USA TODAY that “kids who have close friends in school earn more as grown-ups.” Two Harvard psychiatrists report that socially connected people live longer, respond better to stress, have more robust immune systems, and do better fighting a variety of illnesses.
Journaling How To
The best way to discover what gratitude means to you is to journal. Journaling how to is as simple as listing three items for which you’re grateful, as detailed as answering journaling prompts in a book you buy, or as free-flowing as writing a poem.
On that long-ago Thanksgiving morning, I realized I was rich after I listed people for whom I was grateful:
- Those who stood by me during my father’s illness
- Friends who point out good things about myself that I overlook
- People who help me laugh at the absurdities of life
- Those who encourage my creative work
- Crazy ones up for adventures like…
✔️Yoga in the street at midnight
✔️Bicycling 50 miles in the rain
✔️Spending $ for a show at the Ryman
✔️Getting stranded in a kayak
Once I even expressed grief over a big conflict by writing this haiku:
What We Miss
When consumed with wrongs
We talk, proclaim sin, record;
People cry alone.
What does gratitude mean to you? Why is gratitude important for your situation?
Find Your Way to What Gratitude Means
Pick a journaling how to that works for you, and start a daily habit of gratitude. Discover how many ways you are rich, whatever the interest rates, gas and grocery prices, and risk of recession.
The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the 21st Century by Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz, Beacon Press, 2009.
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