It’s World Gratitude Day today. A day on which we should be counting our blessings and saying thanks for all we have.
To be honest, gratitude is something with which I struggle. If we are to believe the self-help tomes and the manifestation gurus, our inability to give thanks is probably one of the biggest obstacles we face on our road to self-fulfillment and living the life of our dreams.
As parents, one of the best things we can do is to teach our kids to say please and thank you. Teach them to count their blessings and to try to see the glass as half full.
Manners are a vital part of gratitude – both are about showing respect to others no matter who they are.
In the ‘old days’, the teaching of such things was also supported by the church but as church attendance seems to be dwindling, at least for the Church of England and the Church of Wales, there seems to be a distinct vacuum.
Ingratitude and bad manners abound right across all age groups. We have been encouraged to worship at the altar of the self for far too long whilst ignoring petty injustices and day-to-day rudeness.
So what, you might ask? The problem is that these things burgeon and grow and gradually pervade all aspects of modern life.
At weddings and christenings, it is hard to see above the raised throng of smartphones waving in the air trying to film the event.
We have to be asked to turn our phones off before theatrical performances.
We push and shove to get the last seat even though the elderly, infirm and pregnant would appreciate the chance to sit.
Rather than address issues head-on with hotels, restaurants and customer service staff, we write snarky reviews on TripAdvisor.
Our inability to say thank you is tied firmly to the bad manners which ensue when we put ourselves constantly above others.
We even have a ‘jokey’ hashtag #firstworldproblems which is used when the problem isn’t really a problem at all to someone facing famine, disease or some other natural disaster but we still expect others to agree that it IS a problem.
There are loads of gratitude journals. Making your own gratitude list is imbued with a mystical, magical power to change your life.
This might be new age guff (or as the Husband calls such things ‘weirdy, beardy shite’) but you know what, if it makes you feel better, makes you more appreciative and a bit of a nicer person, why not?
I’ve even heard of people carrying ‘gratitude stones’ in their pockets as a kind of talisman to remind them to be thankful.
When you think about it, all of our celebratory days are about giving thanks – Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving (no surprise there), Midsummer’s Eve, New Year…..
Saying thank you allows us to recognise the beauty and the goodness in life. Gratitude allows us to be fully present.
It allows us to acknowledge what we have and without that knowledge, how can we move forward? How can we set meaningful goals?
It surely can’t hurt to take 10 minutes, morning and evening to jot down your gratitude list. Do you have family and friends who love you? A roof over your head? Your health? Money in your pocket?
If so, you’re doing a hell of a lot better than many.
Write your list and go about your day with a grateful heart.
That’s a great prescription for health, happiness and a longer life.