Revisiting how to be grateful

Photo courtesy of Will Crusta

 

It’s Thanksgiving here in the US today. Many people have braved ridiculous airfares, maddening traffic, and horrendous delays, just to spend some time with their family and friends.

But once you get past all of the hassle, there remains one of the only uncommercialized holidays there is, a remarkable achievement if you think about it. It’s a holiday that allows you—assuming you don’t let your mind stray to the shopping deals rolling out just outside your window before you’ve even finished your mashed potatoes—about being grateful.

The grateful living

I’ve talked about being grateful before, as I feel like it’s important not just in our own lives, but in our relationships to others.

But with all the tumult that a year’s worth of thoughts can bring, I wanted to revisit the two central ways that I feel allows me to be grateful, and see if they need revising.

As I elaborated on before, I believe that the two most effective ways to be able to be grateful are:

  • Having experienced a lack in the past
  • Keeping in mind that a lack could happen in the future

A past lack never shifts its position; it’s always something that happened to you. This year, just like last year, and every other year, I can remember times in the past where I lacked for what I wanted, whether it was companionship or some other sort of life situation.

Knowing that a lack could happen in the future is a bit more difficult to keep in mind. Without meaning to sound negative, it’s much easier to forget that bad things can befall us at any time. I’m sitting down with special people this year, but it’s not crazy to think that this might not be an option for me next year. I’ve already dealt with shifting friendships this year; it’s not unreasonable to have that potentially happen again.

And aside from personal relations, I have my health, and enough wealth to be able to live a comfortable life and jet off for parts unknown at regular intervals. But health and wealth can be fickle, especially health (as I tend to believe that one can do a lot to prevent financial difficulties). Again, I’m not assuming that a piano is going to fall on my head (though what a way to go), just that it’s a reminder that what we have today we might not have tomorrow.

What do you have today that you would wish not to lose? Meditate on that for a little while, and I you will feel gratefulness welling up inside of you.

Sticking to my story

So on balance, I stick to my original thought: that understanding and keeping in mind one’s lacks, both past and potential futures, is the key to being grateful.

And as for the lacks happening right now? Let’s tackle them on Monday. They’ll still be there, and we have some celebrating to do now. Let’s be present for that.

But enough about me. How do you feel grateful? Has it changed over time?

Mike Pumphrey

Mike Pumphrey

I'm the founder and author of Unlikely Radical, a site to help people succeed with money, achieve their goals, and live intentionally.

I offer a free phone consultation to anyone who is interested in changing their financial narrative. Are you ready? Click here for details.
Mike Pumphrey
Posted on November 28, 2013