Gratitude is the Attitude
By Tamara Joy Patterson November 12, 2012

I absolutely love this time of year. We have left the scorching days of August. The rain is beginning to come on occasion, and I get to put away all of my skin baring clothes and replace them with scarves and sweaters and mittens. The pressure of Christmastime is still a few weeks away, and we get to look forward to a day of gratitude, football, and yummies with our families and friends. I am pregnant this year which makes the eating that much more fun.

Although we call the fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving, shouldn't every day be one full of thanks? I find it fascinating that one of the consistent habits of happy or successful or effective people is gratitude. It is not that these folks do not have struggles. In fact, some of the happiest people on earth come from the poorest countries or places with terrible weather.

The root behind the effectiveness of gratitude is that it cannot dwell in the same heart as anger or resentment. When we shift our awareness from fear or stress to gratitude we automatically begin to shift to a calmer state in our physiology. When we have resentful thoughts, we experience a stress response. We are living in a time with so much to complain about.

I remember working at a local junior college when the budget cuts began to take place with vigor, and the teachers and staff would spend so much time talking about the "what ifs" and complaining about our government. The blame would land on some idea and the group would bash it. Speaking of ways to solve tough issues and resolve a problem is of the utmost importance, but dwelling on things that we often have no control over only leads to hypertension, and a craving for way to many pumpkin pies.

I like having intelligent discussions on just about any topic, but there is a time where each of us needs to realize that the negative thinking is just adding to the baggage of our day. I would rather focus on the positive, the students I get to interact with in that day, and the lessons I prepared to teach. This is the other power of gratitude. It is something we practice in the moment. The future is not yet here, and the past is over. If you can cultivate energy of gratitude in your heart now, you will feel good, and those around you will feel it too.

We all know people who are "negative nillies" they just aren't fun to be around. We also know people who can find the silver lining even when their world seems to be caving in. These are emotionally bulletproof people, and they often have hearts of gratitude. Let's begin today adding more gratitude.

While you are driving in your car or bored in line at the store take a few moments to take deep breaths and with each inhale think of someone or something you are thankful for. When your mind wanders to your disappointments become aware of the negative feeling, set it aside, and think of something you have to be grateful for. When you get bad news, find thankfulness even if it's just for that one breath that you are breathing now. Having an attitude of gratitude really will make your holidays bright.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, readers. I am thankful for YOU.