With the Thanksgiving holiday just one day away, I wanted to remind us all that while it is easy to be thankful on any given day – especially when our tables are covered with turkey, cranberry and stuffing – gratitude really comes down to a choice. And that choice has to be made constantly.
We all have glasses. And they contain both water and air. The question of half full or half empty is completely up to us, and how we decide to view them. Do we choose to focus on the air – what we want and don’t have, what our neighbor has and we feel incomplete without? Or do we appreciate the water – the gifts life has given us, the people, the love, our health?
Just like in physics, where no two objects can occupy the same space at any given time, the same is true with our emotional energies. We can feel happy, positive and grateful OR sad, negative and depressed. Sure, it is possible to switch back and forth from one moment to the next. But in any single moment, it is one or the other. Show me a person feeling gratitude and I will show you a happy, satisfied person.
The other important element of “giving thanks” is the first word. It is not referred to as taking thanks. Gratitude is a state of appreciation for what we already have, and when one perceives that they are surrounded by abundance, or at least all that they need, the positive feelings which follow often lead to a willingness (and even a desire) to share them and give some away.
This may all sound a bit simple. “What if I am in pain?” you may ask. To that I would say it’s not simple – not at all. However, the challenge lies in a different area than you might expect. In the movie The Matrix, you may remember the scene when Morphius asks Neo to swallow the red pill. It is merely a symbol of his willingness to trust and believe, to demonstrate his intent. It’s not the taking of the pill that is difficult – almost anyone can physically swallow a small object. However, to truly believe in something that challenges you – to have faith in a perspective that feels foreign at first – that’s where the difficulty lies. If we want to lead happy lives, and to feel grateful for what we have, we need to see our glasses as half full, everyday. And in those times when there is something additional we desire, by all means we should go work hard to achieve it. But if we do so at the expense of what we have already been given, we will eventually find ourselves lost.
So what I wish for you, besides a warm and special time eating and drinking with those you care about the most, who love and care about you, is the appreciation for what you have today and the awareness that you can have this feeling year-round. Just make the choice to see the water in your glass and, when you are able, to pour a few drops into the glasses of those around you.
That is what gratitude is all about.