Monday, November 21, 2011

The difference between Gratitude and just being thankful.

'Tis the season for overindulging in food, decorations, spending, etc.  Right?!  But wait there's one holiday that has just about been completely trampled over.  Yes, I speak of Thanksgiving.  Such a sad reflection on our selfish, self-absorbed and materialistic society.  =(   But I have truly been trying to not only instill in my children mindfulness of their blessings but I've also been trying to cultivate a perspective and attitude of gratitude.  So what's the difference?

I was thinking about this the other day and and thinking about the phrase, "Thank you".  How many times a day do you use and hear this?  I think we all hear it and use it almost without really recognizing its use.  But have you ever had someone look you in the eye and using your name sincerely tell you "Thank you"?  It is a really nice feeling. 

For me I think the difference between being thankful and being grateful is the manner I incorporate the thankfulness and gratitude into my life. 

Let me give you an example.  I waited MANY years after being married to have children with my husband.  It was very difficult because more than anything I wanted to be a mom- and a "stay-at-home-mom" at that.  When we finally did have children it was necessary for me to continue to work for two more years.  I love being able to be home with my children now, I ADORE it.  I am truly thankful for the chance I get to spend so much time with them.  However, there are some days where my actions, behaviors and attitudes are not those of gratitude.  I yell too much, I'm impatient and I crave time AWAY.  Of course these are all part of being human and being a mom.  But you string enough of "those" days together and it would be difficult to assume that I am grateful and appreciate my children and my opportunity to be home with them.  And so I really have been trying to be more patient and to express my love and gratitude for them in words and actions. 

Here's another example.  Believe it or not I'm NOT a perfect individual.  (insert hysterical laughing)  I often talk too much, put my foot in my mouth, and other social gaffes despite my best intentions- I'm not socially inept just human.  So I'm so grateful for friends who see beyond my imperfections and are patient and kind to me during my refining process.  I'm grateful for people who are encouraging when I'm having a rough time and forgiving of my short-comings.  However, there is the human nature to magnify another person's (often woman's) social misstep, gossip regarding a slight or wrong done against me, or belittle someone because of their own shortcomings.  But I have been sincerely trying to root out and curb these inclinations as I've realized that true gratitude is a characteristic that is ingrained and intrenched in your character. 

So while New Year's and resolutions are still a month and a half away during this season of Thanksgiving I'm attempting to cultivate gratitude in my character.

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