Guest Blog by Life Coach Sonia Solomonson
Why wait for Thanksgiving to give thanks? Nurturing a gratitude attitude promotes overall good health. My friend and colleague, Sonia Solomonson, wrote a blog in her Way2Grow Coaching newsletter that perfectly captures what I had in mind, so this week’s blog is from her. Thank you, Sonia. More about her at the end of the blog.
In the U.S., November is the month in which we focus on gratitude. In a few weeks, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving. At its best, that day is a time of gathering with family and friends to enjoy each other, often sharing foods potluck-style—and, one hopes, carving out time to reflect on those things for which we’re grateful. At its worst, it’s an orgy of over-consumption. We’ll go with the best now and focus on gratitude!
I’m sometimes surprised when people say they’re grateful they had cancer or a heart attack or went through divorce because it awakened them to the fullness of life in and around them. It made them more aware of the gifts and miracles in daily life that most of us so often race right past. Have you experienced this yourself? Or heard others say it?
The Dayenu Litany
It reminds me of something I read about several years ago. It’s a song of gratitude used as part of the Jewish holiday of Passover and is called the dayenu litany. Dayenu can be roughly translated, “It would have been sufficient” or enough. The litany names something God has done for God’s people to which the response is “Dayenu” or “It would have been sufficient.” Then another kindness is mentioned followed by the same response. Each thing mentioned would alone have been cause for celebration, but then there’s more. For example:
“If [God] had split the sea for us and had not taken us through it on dry land, dayenu.”
“If [God] had drowned our oppressors in it and had not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years, dayenu.”
“If [God] had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years and had not fed us the manna, dayenu.”
On and on it goes. My apologies to people from the Jewish tradition if I didn’t get this in its exact form, but I think you can see the idea. We could each write our own version of dayenu, listing all the amazing things that have happened in our lives, each one of which is cause for thankfulness. But then there’s always more. Perhaps this might be a good way to bring our focus into a place of regular gratitude.
Find Your Focus
The word gratitude derives from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness or gratefulness, depending on context. Gratitude is such an effective way to keep our focus positive when things around us are going south. One doesn’t have to look far or very hard to find things going south these days—or ever, for that matter. If we look for negativity, we’ll find plenty. But if we focus on gratitude and positive things, it’s amazing how much we see that simply takes our breath away. It’s good to focus on what we have rather than what we lack.
The congregation to which I belong has had as its theme the past few years, “Live love. Stop hate.” I like that it helps me keep my focus on loving (not that this is easy, and plenty of days I fail and fall into the trap of criticism and complaint). When I remember the theme, I see so many examples of kindness all around me—so many examples of pure grace for which I’m grateful.
More Than A Day
Why don’t we try to do more than set aside one day a year in which to be grateful? Why not start each day thinking of at least three or four things for which we’re thankful? Better yet, why not also end the day with an even longer list? Make your list different each day or week rather than repeating the same things. That will make you pay attention to what’s going on in and around you. Be specific. Rather than simply, “I’m grateful for my partner,” you could say, “I’m grateful that my partner volunteered to vacuum so I could put my feet up after a tough day.”
In addition, you can take this a step further: Write a note to your beloved saying, “Thank you.” Or write a note or card to send snail mail to thank someone else for what they’ve done or mean to you. Since we get so little personal mail anymore, that would bring joy to its recipient—not to mention joy to you as well!
It’s been said that people who live with gratitude feel more alive, sleep better and have stronger immune systems—just in case you need a reason to be thankful! Research done by University of California-Davis psychologist Robert Emmons showed that keeping a gratitude journal significantly increased well-being and life satisfaction.
How can you add more gratitude into your life?
You can learn more about Sonia and her Life Coaching at Way2Grow Coaching. Contact her for a complimentary strategy session or read her blogs at Topics list. She helps women discover tools to create the life they really want and deserve, especially women facing mid-life issues.
Thank YOU for taking time to read Sonia’s thoughts. I hope you found them inspiring. If so, please forward this to a friend. If you got this from a friend, you can have your very own free subscription by signing up at up at HowWiseThen. I’m currently giving away a couple of new resources: A schedule of some of the many events planned to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower and a list of a few recommendations for the book lovers on your holiday shopping list.