Each year as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we tend to make more time to consciously count our blessings and express our gratitude. More than at any other time of the year, we become willing to take stock of all the things in our lives for which we are grateful, and then make a point of formally declaring our gratitude and appreciation for them. It is pretty much the entire point of the Thanksgiving holiday season, to give thanks for the blessings in our lives.
There is nothing wrong with having a national holiday of gratitude. In truth, it is one of our greatest American traditions. But, why do we wait until Thanksgiving to make gratitude such a big deal? Gratitude is an experience to be cultivated in our daily experience. Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving to make a grand collective gesture, it would be much more beneficial in our lives to practice everyday gratitude throughout the year.
What Exactly is Gratitude Anyway?
If we turn to the dictionary, we find two basic definitions for gratitude. The first defines it as a “quality of being thankful.” Well, okay. But, that is about the most generic definition possible. It’s like describing how a banana tastes by saying it tastes like a banana. It states the obvious, but doesn’t bring the divine idea of gratitude to full bloom. The second definition for gratitude describes it as a “readiness to show appreciation for or to return a kindness.” Once again, a generic description. However, the “readiness” part begins to hint at the dynamic creative energy underlying the experience of gratitude.
To maintain a state of “readiness,” we must cultivate a proactive predisposition to express gratitude at any given moment. We harness the true power of gratitude by always being ready to experience and express it in the eternal present moment of now. If we wait until after the moment has arrived to get ready, we will forever be expressing our gratitude in the rear view mirror, so to speak. Practicing everyday gratitude requires that we cultivate and maintain an ever ready consciousness of gratitude on a day in, day out basis, throughout the year.
Gratitude is Love in Action
To be in a state of “readiness” implies a proactive predisposition in consciousness to be grateful as a way of life. Achieving this “readiness” in consciousness evidences an inner commitment to put in the necessary time and energy to make a habit of being grateful. However, the real commitment we have made is not to gratitude, but rather to expressing the love that inspires the experience of gratitude.
Lesson 195 in A Course In Miracles teaches that “Love is the way I walk in gratitude.” It is through the expression of “love” that I am able to “walk in gratitude.” Love is the cause. The experience or expression of gratitude is the effect. Gratitude doesn’t just go hand in hand with love. Without love, gratitude is not possible. In this sense, gratitude is, quite literally, love in action.
Are You Ready to Love Everyday?
As a “quality of consciousness,” gratitude is impossible for us to experience without expressing the creative power of love. So, cultivating a readiness to express or experience gratitude is really cultivating a readiness to express love. The same is also true for compassion, forgiveness, joy and peace. None of these are possible without love. As A Course In Miracles teaches, we are always and only choosing between love and fear. It is impossible to experience gratitude while choosing from fear. The same is true for compassion, forgiveness, joy and peace. Without love, none of these are possible.
So, while the idea of an annual holiday season of thanksgiving is a good one, to actually wait until Thanksgiving to express or experience gratitude is the equivalent of waiting for the holidays to be ready to express love. That idea, of course, seems ridiculous in this context. We would never make it through the year to Thanksgiving, if we only expressed our love once a year. Making everyday gratitude a reality in your experience is the result of being ready to love everyday. So, are you ready to love every day? Are you maintaining a readiness in consciousness to choose love over fear in everyday circumstances? If you are, then you are already in position to live a life of everyday gratitude.