Every November, about half way through the month, I realize that I wish I were reflecting more on being thankful and expressing gratitude. It usually hits me when I realize friends have been expressing thanks daily for things in their lives via social media. I often think "Oh, I wish I had done that." I want Thanksgiving to be more than the speed bump between Halloween and Christmas. So, this year, I am working on cultivating an attitude of gratitude throughout the month of November. I am hopeful that working on this intentionally for a month will give me good habits for the upcoming year.
Why gratitude? According to an article "In Praise of Gratitude" found in a health newsletter from Harvard, gratitude and happiness are linked. It says "In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships." In other words, gratitude helps with all of your basic life skills. Who wouldn't want to feel more positive, enjoy life more, have better coping skills, and have better relationships and health?
Of course, in order to make improvements in life, it is valuable to assess where you are right now. I found a gratitude quiz to measure my current "attitude of gratitude." I scored a respectable 85% on this quiz, and feel that I am on my way to appreciating life more fully this month.
When I was in high school, a good friend introduced me to a book by legendary basketball coach John Wooden. It was called "They Call Me Coach," and contained many of Wooden's experiences, and also his philosophy of living. I remember being very impressed by Wooden's attention to living life well. He wanted to develop people, not just winning basketball players. To start off my month of gratitude, here is a quote from John Wooden. It is a great blueprint for my month, and for life.
Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books - especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day. -- John WoodenJoin me on my gratitude quest this month, and spend some time reflecting on the things for which you might give thanks.
See also Living in Thanksgiving - Perception and Gratitude and Living in Thanksgiving - Gratitude Journals, Yes or No?