Pilgrims & Indians - Giving Thanks to God

It’s Thanksgiving time and (if you can resist the pressure from the malls and media to ignore it in order to push Christmas shopping) its lesson of GRADTITUDE is one that is vitally important for us today.

Ironically , the image of the pilgrims celebrating, in the wake of such unimaginable hardship, is sometimes difficult to comprehend. Nonetheless, it stands as an important reminder for us that , in even  the worst of times, there is always something for which to be grateful.

Today, especially, when the threats and uncertainties of the world can be overwhelming, it is important to understand that getting in touch with our sense of is an gratitude is not only a nice thing to feel but that it is an integral part of our  mental and spiritual health.  That said, in the midst of difficult times, accessing a sense of gratitude is not easy.  It is important to understand the obstacles that keep us from feeling gratitude so that we may re-capture this profound awareness.  Here are some observations and tips to help us to increase our awareness  and deepen our appreciation of our blessings.

Obstacles which block our feelings of gratitude:

— Depression , Anxiety and Stress can leave us with a distorted sense of reality which feels worse than it actually is.

— Disappointment, Fears, Angers and Resentments can narrow our focus to only the negative things of life and make us lose a balanced perspective which includes the good.

— Taking life for granted and forgetting how challenging our existence can be as well as just getting too comfortable when times are good creates a false sense of entitlement and makes us less appreciative of the good things we enjoy.

Tips for Recapturing a Deep Sense of  Gratitude

  1. Become  Intentional  — Make it a conscious goal to be more appreciative and grateful.  Pay attention when good things happen. Write them down in a “Gratitude Journal“.
  2. Take time — On regular basis review and reflect on your blessings and give thanks .
  3. Don’t forget Your Past  — Take time from time to time to think about and recall the tough times and challenges that you have been through.  Remember the times that you thought were hopeless but that turned out okay.
  4. Regain a Balanced Perspective on Life — Stepping back provides a larger panorama on you life which puts things into a better perspective. A balance perspective helps you to see things in more accurate proportion. Bad thing don’t seem so big and good things stand out in sharper detail.    
  5. Do a Reality check of your Expectations — Life is hard but it’s not impossible. People who experience gratitude realize how treacherous life can be understand that it could be a lot worse. People who have trouble with gratitude either have false sense of entitlement or they so trapped in a pit a negativity that trusting positive developments is difficult. It is critical to realize that either falsely optimistic or negative expectations can distort the way we experience life and mislead us, Challenging our assumptions can open our eyes to blessings that we have overlooked or missed.

Taking good times for granted or feeling skeptical that good times even exist are extremes that are easy to fall into.  Appreciating that life is very difficult but NOT ALL THE TIME. True gratitude arises from the discovery of the contrast of how wonderful good times our when seen in the context of loss and pain. While it is easy to lose a sense of gratitude, it is important not to let these feelings of indifference harden .

Fortunately, there is hope and there are effective techniques to help you recover a more appreciative outlook on life and to experience a deep sense of appreciation for the good that is real and present there.

Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC, Fellow AAPC           11 16 2018

Image attribution : https://www.flickr.com/photos/jan_griffin/15264163857