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Holidays: With An Attitude Of Gratitude, Thanksgiving Can Last All Year Long

   By: Jeff Herring

Well, here we are in the middle of another Thanksgiving season.

Although the holiday is supposed to be a time to give thanks for all our blessings, most of us wind up just stuffing (excuse the pun) ourselves with food and falling asleep in front of the TV watching football.

What if we not only gave real thanks on Thanksgiving but also had an attitude of gratitude throughout the year?

Singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, one of my all-time favorites, has described the way we limit our focus on gratitude to one time of year.

In an interview, he said, "Remember in school how, at Thanksgiving, we would be asked to bring in cans of food, etc., for hungry people? Just imagine if, one year, a teacher had the guts to say, `Children, it was the single most wonderful outpouring of generosity this school has ever seen. More cans of food than ever before, feeding hundreds of families, were donated.

We only have one problem, and we are going to deal with it this coming week. We're going to cancel our regular classes and what we are going to talk about is: What are those people going to eat next week?!?'

"Doesn't it sound like a sensible education system that dealt with questions like that?"

Let's not concentrate on what we don't have

The point is this: In our hectic and stressful lives, it is much too easy to lose perspective and focus on what we don't have instead of what we do have.

When I was a child growing up in Miami in the '60s, my dad worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In his day-to-day work, he came into contact with many people who had much less than we did. On Sundays, we would visit these people and share with them whatever we no longer needed or had left over from the week.

Through this simple Sunday ritual, I learned much about the power of gratitude in life. We were not rich by any means, but in many we were wealthy.

Author H. Stephen Glenn has an interesting and unique definition of affluence: Looking at the world's population as a whole, you can define people as affluent if they have

1) a choice of what they will eat each day,

2) a choice of what to wear,

3) jobs to go to and

4) a choice about how to get to work each day.

Kind of puts our materialism and striving for more into a different perspective, doesn't it?

My belief is that when we are desperately holding on to what we've got and just as desperately striving for more, we close ourselves off to all the abundance life has to offer. ' On the other hand, if we have an attitude of gratitude, we open ourselves up both to seeing the abundance we already have and to the possibility of more. '

Some ways to acquire that gratitude attitude

So, in an effort to develop an ongoing attitude of gratitude, here are some actions to consider taking this Thanksgiving season:

Make a gratitude list. Write, down the many things you feel, grateful for in your life. Just let' your mind focus on what you are grateful for and you might be surprised by all the things you discover.

If you are saying to yourself that you don't have anything to be .~ grateful for, make a list of the ~' things you could be grateful for if, you wanted to be.

Look over your list and notice how many people there are for whom you are grateful. And then tell them and thank them. If they are not there, call them up. If they don't answer the phone, write them. Just do it - it's not for them, it's for you!

Now, what would it be like if you did this at least once a month? What changes in perspective would that bring? What changes in your attitude?

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