Gratitude has been the theme across my Facebook news feed for the past month.
Some of you may recognize it as "gratitude month" in honor of the spirit of Thanksgiving Day. Each day those who participate post a status update listing the thing, person, service or other things they are grateful for that day.
It's a great idea and it's no lie that as a society we focus more on our wants and desires than we do on what we really need and are grateful for. But after reading Seth Godin's blog post this past Monday, I can't help but wonder if this form of gratitude is nothing more than a complacent act, like standing in line. Do we do it just because the next person is? It's safe and easy to do what everyone else is doing. There's no risk.
Like my good friend Erica Beck said on PNWRancher.com: "We shouldn’t have to put thankfulness on our to-do list each day, but if that’s what it takes to make it a habit the rest of the year, then maybe we need to."
This statement and the rest of Erica's latest blog really hit home with me this week. She went on to discuss the idea of having a conversation with her "inner 5-year-old" and letting go of the complacencies in life to pursue her dream, which in her case is to ranch full-time.
From this perspective, it seems to me a refocus from gratitude to that of reflection, evaluation, and change may be more useful for some than the standard, "I'm thankful for blank" approach.
Too many individuals spend their lives in quiet desperation. They make excuses and say, "I'll do it next month … or next year." And before too long next month or next year has passed and the dream or idea has never come to fruition.
It's times like these, when everyone else is numbering the things they are thankful for, that I ask myself with introspective thanksgiving – what am I taking for granted in my life and how can I make it better?
It seems foolish to me to think true gratitude can be gained by complacently trudging along with the rest of the crowd. Instead, it seems more likely that where real thanksgiving should lie is in the victory of achieving our goals while pursuing something that sets our hearts on fire.
I will leave you with a few questions to ask yourself during this time of thankfulness.
What are you taking for granted in your life?
How can you make it better?
If you obtain a stated goal, why would you be thankful for it?
Do as Erica suggests. Get in touch with your inner 5-year-old. Force yourself to take a hard look in the mirror not only for what you are thankful for but what you take for granted in your life as well. In the end, if you're not happy with the results you're getting, you have no one to blame but yourself.