Thursday, November 27, 2014


Thanksgiving Grace: 1942
This annual coming-together to think and express what we're thankful for is pretty much a uniquely American phenomenon. As a nation, right from our beginnings we've understood the value of recognizing and expressing gratitude for our blessings.

But the individual and daily exercise of gratitude has become even more important to me as part of the process of creating a good life.

Now, gratitude is the subject of a lot of books and countless articles. In addition to its spiritual and psychological benefits, gratitude is even recommended as part of the "manifestation" process described in The Secret and similar books. As in, if you get it and aren't grateful, the universe will stop being so generous.

At minimum, being grateful does move your focus to the positive. And I think much of how we evaluate the quality of our lives is a function of that focus. It used to be popular to pooh-pooh the supposedly saccharin story in the children's book Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter, but I've found a lot of benefit in that approach. You notice what you're focusing on, and that can really change your perception of how things are. And with a bit of consistent effort, you can change your focus. One way to do that is to consciously practice gratitude on a daily basis. Some people keep gratitude journals as part of that practice. By the way, I'd recommend a re-read of Pollyanna... I read it again a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed its charming story. And if you're trying to summon up more gratitude, it will definitely reinforce your effort.

Changing your focus to what you're grateful for is also recommended as a key strategy by self-help guru Tony Robbins. He stresses, over and over in his work, that what you focus on is what you get more of.

So perhaps there is some kind of woo-woo magic, per The Secret, in focusing on what you want, in order to manifest it. Or maybe it's just a psychological phenomenon that whether you focus on good things, or undesirable things, your subconscious will "help you" by working behind the scenes to bring you that which you're focusing on. And religious folks, of course, will realize the spiritual discipline of being grateful for whatever is brought into your life.

Today I'm grateful for many things. Among them is the ability to be profoundly grateful for what I have.